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Air Defense Soldiers to Return this Week (5/5/2014) 
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NOTE: Estimated Arrival Times are Changed

Tuesday, May 6 - Grand Forks - 1:05 p.m. and Bismarck - 2:30 p.m.

Please check back for any additional changes

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The return trip for more than 200 Soldiers with the North Dakota National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment has been confirmed. The Guardsmen, who spent nearly a year contributing to Operation Noble Eagle in the Washington, D.C., area, will return on Tuesday, May 6, via chartered aircraft to Grand Forks and Bismarck, at approximately 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively.  They will be coming from Fort Bliss, Texas, where the unit conducted the Army’s standard demobilization process.

The chartered aircraft to Grand Forks will land at Grand Forks International Airport, and Soldiers will offload at Grand Forks Flight Support, north of the airport.

The chartered aircraft to Bismarck will land at the airport but will offload the Soldiers at the North Dakota National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility, south of the airport.

The public and media are welcome to attend. Historically, chartered flights arrive early and therefore we recommend arriving at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled arrival.

For those attending the welcome in Grand Forks, parking may be limited at Grand Forks Flight Support, but additional parking will be available in front of GFK’s main terminal at a nominal rate. For those attending the welcome in Bismarck, turn into the complex at the Huey helicopter display on Airway Ave. Soldiers will guide vehicles into parking areas.

The unit’s national capital mission involved collaborating with other Department of Defense agencies as part of the integrated air defense system designed to protect the airspace around the National Capital Region. 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.

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.

WHO: Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery

WHAT: Return to North Dakota from National Capital Region mission in support of Operation Noble Eagle

WHERE: Grand Forks Flight Support, 2403 Air Cargo Drive, Grand Forks, and N.D. National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility, 3406 Airway Avenue, Bismarck, ND

WHEN: UPDATED: Tuesday, May 6 at approximately 1:05 p.m. in Grand Forks and 2:30 p.m. in Bismarck; Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility, south of the Bismarck Airport

MEDIA: No precoordination necessary. Eric Jungels (701-412-6895) will be on site in Grand Forks, and Bill Prokopyk (701-220-7277) will be on site in Bismarck to assist.

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Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 4,000 Soldiers and more than 2,400 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. About 70 percent of all members serving today have joined since that time. Currently, more than 80 North Dakota Guardsmen are mobilized for overseas service and more than 200 are on duty in Washington, D.C., and in Texas. With a total force of about 4,400 Guardsmen, the North Dakota National Guard remains ready for stateside 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.
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