BISMARCK, N.D. - One of the North Dakota National Guard aviation community's top leaders was recognized at a retirement ceremony today for over four decades of military service.

About 75 Family members, friends and fellow Guardsmen gathered at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Bismarck to honor Col. Fred A. Karnik, Jr. for his many years of military service with the North Dakota National Guard.

"Fred Karnik has been an instrumental figure in the North Dakota Army National Guard's outstanding record of safe flying and professional service," said Col David Anderson, Chief of Staff for the North Dakota Army National Guard, who presided over the ceremony. "As the North Dakota National Guard's state army aviation officer he was able to successfully build invaluable relationships with the National Guard Bureau and other state National Guard aviation units. These relationships helped our Guard receive aviation assistance when needed which was especially important when we had aircraft deployed overseas."

Karnik served as the North Dakota National Guard's state army aviation officer twice; from 1997-2001 and from 2008 until his retirement. His other key assignments included serving as the first commander of the Bismarck based 1-112th Aviation Battalion (1995-1997) and as an instructor pilot.

Karnik thanked the guests present by acknowledging that "Soldiers don't serve alone. The professional aviators and aviation support staff of our national guard are responsible for the great reputation and aviation safety record that we enjoy today. And the support from our Families is absolutely essential for successful military service."

Karnik enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard in his hometown of Grafton, N.D. in 1970 as a supply clerk. He recalled that Kay, his future wife at the time, was his side during his enlistment.

He attended U.S. Army flight training in 1978. Karnik, a recipient of the U.S. Army's Master Aviator Badge, is credited with over 7,700 accident free flight hours in UH-1H Iroquois (Huey) helicopters and various fixed wing aircraft which include the C-12 Huron, U-21 Ute, T-42 Cochise, and U-3 Blue Canoe.

Karnik also singled out his wife for her support. "She's accompanied me in this 40-year journey of Guard service, enduring deployments and the many nights away from home during my career without complaint."

During the ceremony, Karnik was awarded the Legion of Merit, a cased U.S. flag, and other memorabilia for his military service. He participated in Operation Enduring Freedom by deploying to Afghanistan with Detachment 42 (Det. 42), Operational Support Airlift (OSA) in 2004 serving as the unit's instructor pilot for the C-12 Huron aircraft.
<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 75 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that's more than four times the national average.

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