By By Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser WillsonMay 20, 2010
FARGO, N.D. - Twenty-one Soldiers with the North Dakota Army National Guard's 191st Military Police Company arrived in Haiti yesterday. They will spend three weeks there providing security to facilitate the movement of U.S. service members who will be constructing a base camp about 95 miles north of Port au Prince, near Gonaives.
Sgt. 1st Class Troy L. Skelton, of Bismarck, is leading the North Dakota group of Soldiers, who all volunteered for the humanitarian mission. They will be serving alongside Guardsmen from Louisiana (lead state), Missouri, Nevada, Montana, South Dakota, Texas, Indiana, New York and the Virgin Islands as part of the U.S. Southern Command New Horizons mission. In all, about 500 will work together to help the communities that were seriously impacted by a Jan. 12 earthquake. Beyond Guardsmen, that total includes Navy Seabees and medical personnel from the Navy, Air Force and Army Reserve.
"We had more than enough Soldiers volunteer to go on this mission. North Dakota Guardsmen are anxious to use their skills to help those who have suffered so much in Haiti following the earthquake," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "While the mission calls to them on a personal level, it offers them even more on a professional level as they gain valuable training in an overseas environment."
The New Horizons mission focus is on construction projects and humanitarian and medical assistance. It gives participating military personnel the opportunity to use their capabilities to help communities and individuals with humanitarian needs while enhancing their ability to deploy abroad in support of military operations.
The North Dakota Soldiers spent Tuesday afternoon checking their gear and finishing paperwork needed for the mission. The area they will be assisting in has little to offer in the way of electricity or housing, so they planned and packed with those conditions in mind. The Guardsmen arrived in uniform at Hector International Airport, Fargo, N.D., early Wednesday for their flight to Haiti, anticipating deplaning and going straight to work upon their arrival in country.
"Twenty-one (Soldiers) from the 191st Military Police Company have arrived in Haiti," Skelton reported in an e-mail message yesterday evening. "The Soldiers are motivated and eager to start their mission."
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.
High-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/ndguard. Navigate to the photo set titled "MPs to Haiti."
For more information
North Dakota Guard to Assist in Haiti Recovery Operations (May 23, 2010)
Southern Command Announces Continued Humanitarian Assistance to Haiti (April 23, 2010)