FARGO, N.D. - About 200 family members, friends and community supporters came to the Fargo Civic Center this morning to show their appreciation for 43 Soldiers who spent a year in Afghanistan. The <a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil">North Dakota Army National Guard</a>'s 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment's RAID (Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment) III group, along with their family members and employers, were honored for their service during a <a href="http://www.virtualarmory.com/FreedomSalute/OverView.aspx">Freedom Salute</a>.

The Freedom Salute campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. It was designed to publicly acknowledge Soldiers, as well as those who support them, during recent military operations.

"That surveillance mission we do over there is incredibly important. It's about keeping our Soldiers safe. Because you do what you do, you're saving lives in Afghanistan, and that's why the 1-188th Air Defense Artillery, North Dakota Army National Guard, owns this mission, and we're now on our fourth deployment," <a href="http://governor.state.nd.us/">Gov. John Hoeven</a> told the crowd gathered for the 10 a.m. ceremony.

While in Afghanistan, the Soldiers operated RAID systems, which incorporate a tower with sensor technology to protect forward operating bases from which U.S. service members and coalition forces live and work. RAID IV, the fourth North Dakota Army National Guard group to perform this mission, is in Afghanistan now after having replaced RAID III.

"It is a specialized assignment of utmost importance, and it keeps coming back to the 188th," said <a href="http://www.pomeroy.house.gov/">Congressman Earl Pomeroy</a>, noting the Soldiers' capable dedication to saving lives.

The Soldiers performed the mission at <a href="http://www.bagram.afcent.af.mil/">Bagram Airfield</a>, as well as five other forward operating bases in Afghanistan. According to Capt. Amber Monette, RAID III commander, the Soldiers' dedication to the mission has extended beyond the 12-month tour. Three of the group's Soldiers volunteered to stay in Afghanistan an additional year to assist the unit replacing RAID III, and another three have since volunteered to return to Afghanistan as civilian contractors, two of whom are working with the RAID systems. Additionally, more than half of the RAID III Soldiers - 28 to be precise - were on their second or third overseas deployment.

"Today is certainly a day of thanks, for your families, your friends and your community. It's a day of thanks for your employers, who are here, as well," said <a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/jointforce/jointexecutivecouncil/Sprynczynatyk/Pages/default.aspx">Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk</a>, North Dakota adjutant general. "This day is RAID III Day in the North Dakota National Guard."

Sprynczynatyk stressed that the mission's success would not have been possible without the support of all of the families, friends and employers across North Dakota.

Families' service was strongly emphasized throughout the Freedom Salute, with each spouse or parent receiving a lapel pin and Soldiers' children receiving medals. Spouses of Soldiers who have deployed more than once received a wood clock, as well.

All Soldiers who deployed received a cased flag and commemorative coin and certificate. Many Soldiers received other awards for their service, as well.

Soldiers who have deployed more than once received a certificate and Freedom Salute Ring. Those Soldiers, along with any additional awards they received today, are:
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Adam J. Baker, Fargo, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Perry E. Barone, Mandan, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Joseph M. Boyer, Grand Forks, Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Ryan D. Broyles, Thompson, Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Michael D. Cantlon Jr., Bismarck, Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt 1st Class Chris J. Dietz, Mandan, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Jorge O. Elizondo, Grand Forks, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Zachery L. Estes, Fargo (currently working as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan)
Aca,!Ac Spc. William F. Foutch Jr., Grand Forks, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Gardell Q. Frey, Bismarck (currently serving in Afghanistan)
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Matthew S. L. Glaze, Grand Forks, Meritorious Service Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Nicholas A. Harr, Fargo, Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Jordan L. Hart, Grand Forks, Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. 1st Class John L. Haynes, Grand Forks (currently serving in Afghanistan)
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Shannon L. Kliniske-Nelson, Grand Forks, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Jeremy G. Kuntz, Bismarck, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Shaun T. McKewin, Grand Forks (currently serving in Afghanistan)
Aca,!Ac 1st Sgt. George A. Overby, Reynolds, Bronze Star Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Edward J. Pilak, Grand Forks, Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt 1st Class David S. Robinson, Alvarado, Minn., Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. David A. Saari, Fargo, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Ryan D. Sabin, Bismarck
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Michael C. Sather, Mayville, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt 1st Class Timothy J. Simmons, Grand Forks, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Andrew J. Stenehjem, Bismarck, Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Pfc. Dustin M. Thompson, Bismarck, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Deborah Walker (currently working as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan)
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Byron D. Yoder, Warren, Minn., Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal

Those Soldiers recognized for their first deployment include:
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Teresa M. Barone, Mandan, Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Eric J. Bender, Mandan, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Andrew R. Carlson, Thompson, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Kyle S. Emmel, Mandan, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Christina L. Gess, Grand Forks, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Brock J. Johlfs, Fulda, Minn., Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Aca,!Ac Spc. Patrick W. Keller, Bismarck, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Patrick H. Kliner, Euclid, Minn., Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. 1st Class Troy D. Lang, Fargo, Meritorious Service Medal
Aca,!Ac Capt. Amber L. Monette, East Grand Forks, Minn., Bronze Star Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Lamar J. Murchison, Bismarck, Army Commendation Medal
Aca,!Ac Spc. Max D. Sanford III, Bismarck, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Pfc. Jared T. Schwanz, Grand Forks, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Forrest L. Wells, West Fargo
Aca,!Ac Sgt. Kayla J. Zimbelman, Oakes, Army Achievement Medal

A number of volunteers with the RAID III Family Readiness Group, which organized activities and meetings to support families while their Soldier was deployed, also were recognized. Those honored today were Sue Hart, Floyd and Jeanette Kliner, Sammi Lee, Bobbi Simmons, Tanya Schmidt-Dietz and Michelle Messer. Others who could not attend but will be presented certificates are Rial Monette, Penny Jacobson, Brenda Reineke and Tom and Sue Bender. Hart also received a Minuteman Statue as part of the Unit Center of Influence Award for her additional support during the mobilization. Honored with a framed mural and the Unit Center of Influence Award was Shelle Michaels with <a href="http://www.soldiersangels.org/">Soldiers Angels</a>. The mural will be displayed at the Soldiers Angels Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

As always, the <a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/armyguard/188armyband/Pages/default.aspx">188th Army Band</a> performed for today's event and the <a href="http://www.ndpatriotguard.org/">North Dakota Patriot Guard</a> filled the auditorium with flags and motorcycles, concluding the event by revving their engines.
--
<i>Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about 800 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, sufficient forces remain in the state for emergency response and homeland defense.
</i>
<Photo 12>
<b><u>Photos</b></u>
These and many other high-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard. Navigate to the photo set titled "RAID III Freedom Salute."

<b><u>For more information</b></u>
<a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/news/Pages/Soldiers,MilitaryFamiliestobeHonoredFollowingAfghanistanDeployment.aspx">Soldiers, Military Families to be Honored Following Afghanistan Deployment </a>(May 10, 2010)

<a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/news/Pages/10-017.aspx">Grand Forks-based Soldiers to Return Home Within a Few Weeks</a> (Jan. 14, 2010)

Page last updated Sun May 16th, 2010 at 17:06