Community sends off Guardsmen deploying to Kosovo
September 27, 2011
BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 27, 2011 -- The North Dakota National Guard's commander-in-chief, elected officials and senior military leaders joined with community members, families and friends of deploying Guardsmen today to wish them well during a formal send-off ceremony.
Fifty-five Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Regiment (Security and Support), left today for additional training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., before heading overseas for the remainder of their yearlong mission. They will serve as part of Kosovo Force 15, a NATO peacekeeping operation.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple led a distinguished group of speakers that included Sen. John Hoeven, Rep. Rick Berg and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general.
"The members of the 1-112th Aviation Regiment and their families are stepping up in a big way to serve our state and nation on this peacekeeping mission to Kosovo," said Dalrymple. "These Soldiers are putting their lives on hold and on the line to defend our nation and promote peace in the Balkan region. We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude for their willingness to serve, and we pray for their safe and speedy return home."
This is the second deployment to the Balkans for the Bismarck-based unit, which sent 23 Soldiers to Bosnia-Herzegovina from 2005-06.
While the event's focus was on the deploying Guardsmen, Sprynczynatyk emphasized the families' commitment and role in the mission, as well.
"Family support plays a remarkable role in the success of our missions," he said. "We want to ensure you're taken care of because our Soldiers will, in turn, be able to focus on their missions. I know the next year won't be easy, but I also know you are all determined and capable and will grow stronger from the challenges the coming months will bring. We all applaud and salute your service and commitment to duty."
At 6 p.m. the Soldiers left aboard a bus headed for Camp Atterbury. About 150 family members, friends and community well-wishers were on hand to see them off on their tour of duty. Members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard held U.S. flags at the send-off ceremony and led the bus through Bismarck on their motorcycles.
Lt. Col. William Watson commands the unit, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Schuchard serves as the senior enlisted adviser. Many of the Soldiers hail from the Bismarck-Mandan area, but the unit is comprised of Guardsmen from 15 North Dakota communities.