Grand Forks event honors National Guard unit for its 14-month deployment
The ceremony honored more than 220 members of the First Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment for its service defending the airspace of Washington, D.C., region during its recent deployment under Operation Noble Eagle.
GRAND FORKS — Family, friends and community members gathered Sunday afternoon at UND’s Hyslop Sports Center to celebrate members of the North Dakota National Guard, which recently returned home from a 14-month deployment to Washington, D.C.
The ceremony honored more than 220 members of the First Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment for their service defending the airspace of the National Capital Region during its recent deployment under Operation Noble Eagle. The group was deployed from June 2021 to July 2022; they were welcomed back to Grand Forks on July 23. This was the battalion’s third deployment to Washington, D.C., since 2013, and its 12th deployment since 2004.
Among the speakers Sunday was Gov. Doug Burgum, who shared his gratitude for the soldiers who served in the nation’s capital. He also expressed thanks to the families for their work while the soldiers were away.
“Even with the advent of technology and only a one-hour time zone change, there still is the sacrifices of missing each other and missing birthdays, missing anniversaries, trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas gift openings and other major life milestones,” Burgum said. “Thank you, families, for all that you do.”
Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, noted that military families are “unsung heroes” who always deserve appreciation from their loved ones and the Guard.
Dohrmann also spoke of Grand Forks’ support for its military members.
“There is something special about Grand Forks,” he said. “This community supports its National Guard.”
Prior to the ceremony, Dohrmann said he and a group of other people took a tour of the UND campus and then headed over to the Red Pepper for lunch. When they arrived, a couple ahead of the group said they were glad they made it to the Red Pepper before the soldiers. Dohrmann wondered whether they meant that the couple wouldn’t have to wait in line behind the group; instead, the couple had left $60 to pay for the soldiers’ food.
“That’s Grand Forks,” he said.
While in Washington, D.C., the battalion worked with Department of Defense agencies to provide early-warning, ground-based aerial surveillance to ensure air space protection within and outside the National Capital Region, the Herald previously reported. The mission was part of Operation Noble Eagle, an enduring mission that started after the terrorist attacks in September 2001 to ensure security in the region.
U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer also spoke during the ceremony.
“It was a great afternoon welcoming home the First Battalion 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment of the North Dakota National Guard in Grand Forks. These brave men and women deserve our utmost respect and honor for their willingness to serve the United States through all types of missions, emergencies and natural disasters,” Cramer said after the celebration. "These soldiers were so committed to making a difference during this deployment. When they weren’t keeping the skies over the National Capital Region safe, they were logging more than 4,000 hours of volunteer work while off duty.”
Hoeven said, “Our Guard members represent the best of North Dakota, serving with excellence and distinction right alongside their active-duty counterparts. That’s why we will continue working to ensure they receive the recognition and benefits they have earned.”