FARGO, N.D. - North Dakota Soldiers working in Haiti returned home yesterday after spending more than three weeks there on a humanitarian mission. The Soldiers, who serve with the 191st Military Police Company, left May 19 to take part in the <a href="http://www.southcom.mil/">U.S. Southern Command's</a> New Horizons mission.

"The <a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil">North Dakota National Guard </a>does an outstanding job of serving our state and nation, and these Soldiers have proven that the Guard's dedication and preparedness extends far beyond the borders of North Dakota," said Gov. John Hoeven. "The important work they have completed in Haiti will have a beneficial impact on the people of that country as they continue to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake."

The North Dakota Army National Guardsmen provided force protection at four locations in Haiti, primarily to facilitate the construction of a base camp near Gonaives, about 95 miles north of Port au Prince. That construction is wrapping up this week, said Sgt. 1st Class Troy Skelton, of Bismarck, the noncommissioned officer in charge of 20 other North Dakota Soldiers in Haiti. The group also provided some convoy security for medical personnel assisting in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

"These Soldiers embody the characteristics that make the North Dakota National Guard great," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "Despite the primitive conditions and long work days, they all volunteered to go on this mission. They realize that what they did there will have lasting impacts on the people of Haiti, as well as on their own abilities since they were able to refine their skills while operating as part of our global environment."

During the 26-day mission, Soldiers subsisted entirely on MREs (meals ready to eat) and bottled water. The bottled water also was their only means of bathing while in Haiti, where the temperature regularly pushed 100 degrees.

"I see the mission as a success," Skelton said. "The Soldiers completed the mission with professionalism and no complaining. ... The Soldiers who went down to Haiti were up for the challenges we faced, and they all did an incredible job."

Skelton's group worked under the guidance of the Louisiana National Guard and side-by-side with Soldiers from Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, South Dakota, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Together, they focused on construction projects and humanitarian and medical assistance as part of New Horizons, which gives participating military personnel the opportunity to help communities and individuals with humanitarian needs while enhancing their ability to deploy overseas in support of military operations.

<b><u>Editor's Note: </b></u>Additional stories and photos from our Soldiers serving in Haiti are being processed now and will be distributed to you throughout this week.
<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 600 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.

High-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard. Navigate to the photo set titled "MP Mission in Haiti."

<b><u>For more information</b></u>
<a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/news/Pages/NorthDakotaSoldiersBusywithMissionsinHaiti.aspx">North Dakota Soldiers Busy with Missions in Haiti</a> (June 2, 2010)

<a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/news/Pages/NDMilitaryPoliceArriveinHaiti.aspx">North Dakota Military Police Arrive in Haiti </a>(May 20, 2010)

<a href="http://www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/news/Pages/GuardtoAssistinHaiti.aspx">North Dakota Guard to Assist in Haiti Recovery Operations</a> (April 23, 2010)

<a href="http://www.southcom.mil/AppsSC/news.php'storyId=2310">Southern Command Announces Continued Humanitarian Response to Haiti</a> (April 23, 2010)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16