National Guard soldier send off ceremony goes virtual
BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - On Sunday, 72 North Dakota National Guard soldiers were sent off for a nine-month deployment in Washington D.C.
However, the soldiers were separated, and families weren’t allowed at the ceremony as the coronavirus continues to halt in-person gatherings.
Some soldiers say they are taking their third deployment, others are going on their first.
But one thing they all had in common, was how much they’re going to miss friends and family back home.
Rows of soldiers line the hanger, all six-feet apart, and wearing their masks.
“This ceremony is part of the new normal. But one thing that is not part of the new normal, something that we continue to do day-in and day-out is that we remain always ready and always there,” said Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota National Guard.
The soldiers sit next to their soon-to-be combat companion, while their families watch from home.
“I would love to have my family down here, my boys especially, they see and they play with the little model Black Hawks that I have at home and I’ve always wanted to bring them down here,” said Kyle Gensburger, specialist for the North Dakota National Guard.
Across the street, more soldiers going on the mission watch from a projector.
“I have two previous deployments, one to Afghanistan in 2009 and then one to the National Capitol Region in 2013, this one is completely different with the mission,” said Brock Johlfs, pilot for the North Dakota National Guard.
Although details of the mission are limited, the unit will be supporting the 12th Aviation Brigade, transporting personal and cargo.
“It’s going to be tough, because I have three kids, two boys and one girl,” said Gensburger.
Soon these soldiers will say goodbye, one last time.
“The hardest part is leaving family and friends,” said Johlfs.
Until they return home next year.
Of the 72 soldiers deploying, 38 are married and 34 have children.
They are expected to leave in November.
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