BISMARCK, N.D. — Hundreds of family members, friends, military veterans, fellow Guardsmen, the North Dakota Patriot Guard and members of the community gathered to honor 100 Soldiers of the Williston, N.D. and Hazen, N.D.-based 818th Engineer Company (Sapper) today at the Bismarck Civic Center.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Senator John Hoeven, Representative Rick Berg and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, delivered remarks during the ceremony.
“Today we proudly honor the Soldiers of the 818th Engineer Company as they deploy on a yearlong mission to Afghanistan and continue the North Dakota National Guard's distinguished support of Operation Enduring Freedom,” Dalrymple said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with these Soldiers and their Families, and we look forward to welcoming them home once their mission is completed.”
The Soldiers will depart Monday at about 11:30 a.m. from Raymond J. Bohn Armory en route to their chartered flight from the Bismarck Airport. The unit will travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training before deploying to Afghanistan. Members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard will provide a motorcycle escort for the Soldiers while they travel to the airport. Members of the community are encouraged to show support along the route.
“Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes go out to our Soldiers and their Families as they embark on their yearlong mission,” Sprynczynatyk said. “These professional Sappers are well trained and fully prepared to undertake their important trailblazer mission, keeping roads safe and clear for our coalition military and the citizens of Afghanistan.”
The “Sapper” moniker associated with the 818th Engineers refers to combat engineers, whose missions include mine clearing, road building and maintenance, as well as other engineer-related military tasks preformed in a combat theater.
The 818th Engineer Company is expected to be on active duty for about a year. Nearly half of the unit has served on previous overseas deployments.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,800 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, nearly 400 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.
NOTE: Anticipated route to the Bismarck Airport: From Raymond J. Bohn Armory, south on Bismarck Expressway, turning south on Airport Road near the Military Service Center, then south on University Drive to the airport.
For more information: N.D. National Guard Release “Williston, Hazen Guard Units Alerted for Potential Mobilization” (5/28/2011)