LANSDOWNE, VA. - The North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office took home a stack of awards following last week's National Guard Bureau Public Affairs Training Workshop in Virginia. The awards recognized achievements of North Dakota Army and Air National Guard public affairs professionals across not only the National Guard and Reserves but their active Army and Air Force counterparts.
The team as a whole took first place for Excellence in Public Communications in Support of Domestic Operations for their work during spring 2009 flooding across the state. A large National Guard Heritage print will hang in Bismarck to commemorate the honor, which recognizes the team's success in media coordination, videography, photography, writing and more throughout 100 days of Guard response.
During the conference, Walt Debany, a public affairs specialist with the National Guard Bureau, told attendees that he was "never more impressed than when I arrived in North Dakota" during the flood. He encouraged other states to seek out North Dakota for advice and assistance due to their level of accomplishment.
Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, a photographer with the North Dakota Air National Guard, won numerous awards for his photography skills throughout the past year. Only four Guardsmen placed first in the Air Force-wide Air Force Media Contest, and five earned third-place honors. Of those nine awards, Lipp earned two - a first-place and a third-place designation.
On the Army side, only seven Guardsmen earned first-place honors and four earned second-place awards in the Keith L. Ware Awards, which encompass all Army National Guard, Army Reserve and active-Army forces. Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson, deputy public information officer for the North Dakota National Guard, placed first in sports writing. Staff Sgt. Thomas Webster, a unit public affairs representative with the 191st Military Police Company, earned a second-place award for a photo he took while deployed to Iraq last year.
"For our Guard members to rise to the top among not only their Guard peers but their active-duty counterparts speaks volumes to their talent and dedication to duty," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general. "The efforts that were undertaken during the flood highlight the skills that are used every day to serve both the Guard and the people of North Dakota."
In addition to the Army- and Air Force-wide contests, the public affairs team brought home numerous awards from the National Guard Bureau Media Contest, including:
• Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, Fargo - first in photojournalism, first in sports photograph, first in pictorial photograph, first in picture story
• Capt. Penny Ripperger, Glyndon, Minn. - third for Journalist of the Year
• Staff Sgt. Amy Wieser Willson, West Fargo, N.D. - second in sports articles, second in art/graphics in support of a publication
• Sgt. 1st Class David Dodds, Grand Forks, N.D. - second in photojournalism
• Sgt. Eric Jensen, Bismarck, N.D. - third in art/graphics in support of a publication
Additionally, unit public affairs representatives, who have been trained by the Public Affairs Office to provide stories and photos on their respective units, came away with some awards.
• Sgt. Kristi Dump, 164th Engineer Battalion - first in contribution by a stringer/writer (articles)
• Staff Sgt. Thomas Webster, 191st Military Police Company - first in contribution by a stringer/photographer (photo)
• Spc. Roy Neset, 164th Engineer Battalion - second in contribution by a stringer/writer (photo)
Since the terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,400 Soldiers and nearly 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, more than 700 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.