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More Than 200 North Dakota Soldiers Return Home - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

More Than 200 North Dakota Soldiers Return Home

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Almost a year after community members wished them well with a sendoff ceremony, more than 200 Soldiers with the North Dakota National Guard's 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment were reunited with family and friends when they arrived home to North Dakota on Tuesday.

The Guardsmen deployed to the Washington, D.C., area in support of Operation Noble Eagle from July 2013 to April 2014.  They conducted 24/7 operations as the ground-based air defense battalion and collaborated with other Department of Defense agencies as part of the integrated air defense system designed to protect the airspace around the National Capital Region.

"Today, we proudly welcome the members of the 1-188th Air Defense Artillery back home to the state they have so honorably represented and served this past year in our nation's capital," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who welcomed the Soldiers home as they stepped off the plane in Bismarck. "They and their families have sacrificed so much on our behalf and we will always be grateful for their outstanding service."

"I am quite honored to welcome you back to North Dakota after a year of success in Washington, D.C.," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general.  "Your unit has stepped up time and time again - answering our nation's call for service and support overseas and on our home soil.  We're grateful for your dedication and professionalism."

This was the 10th deployment for the 1-188th since 2004. It is the most-deployed unit in the North Dakota National Guard, with portions of the battalion previously serving on two separate missions to Iraq, six missions in Afghanistan and one mission in Kosovo.

While deployed, the 1-188th executed operations around the clock for 297 total days over the last year.  The unit also refreshed training resources and contributed more than 200 tactical procedure improvement recommendations to increase the likelihood that other units are successful during future rotations.

Lt. Col. Jon Erickson, of Bismarck, N.D., commands the unit and Sgt. Maj. Wallace Keller, of Bismarck, is the senior enlisted leader. The unit is headquartered in Grand Forks with units in Bismarck and Fargo, although the returning Soldiers hail from 27 North Dakota communities as well as 12 cities in neighboring states.

A formal welcome home ceremony, called a Freedom Salute, will take place in about three months to honor the Guardsmen and their families.
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