VALLEY CITY, N.D — North Dakota National Guard
members on duty fighting flooding in Valley City and Lisbon, N.D., received a visit from Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk
, North Dakota adjutant general, and the North Dakota National Guard’s senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Job
, on Easter Sunday.
After receiving assessment briefings at the tactical operations center in the Valley City Armory, Sprynczynatyk and Job had breakfast with Guard members before joining them for an Easter service given by Chaplain (Capt.) Brock Sailer, of Cando, N.D.
“All North Dakotans appreciate your service for an unprecedented third year of Guard flood response, especially during holidays normally shared with families and friends,” Sprynczynatyk told Guardsmen during the visit. “Your professionalism and dedication is evident whether serving overseas or here at home in support of our communities.”
The senior Guard leaders visited Soldiers at their duty stations in both cities, climbing up and down earthen dikes and receiving status updates from the Guard members stationed at key locations.
“I am proud to see so many of our young noncommissioned officers exhibiting leadership during our flood response,” Job said. “All across the state, my assessment remains the same — strong leadership by our Soldiers and Airmen will ensure that our next generation of North Dakota National Guard leaders will be fully prepared to successfully lead our organization in the future.”
After touring Guard quick reaction forces, pumping stations and dike patrol missions in Valley City, the two leaders traveled to Lisbon to assess operations.
Staff Sgt. Matt Hebl, of Lamoure, N.D., who serves with the 815th Engineer Company, was on duty in Lisbon.
“It feels real good to be part of this flood fight, a gratifying mission,” he said. “The thing that makes this duty great is the tremendous gratitude and support shown by the residents of Lisbon.”
Some of the Soldiers on flood duty were spending their third year away from home on Easter due to military obligations.
“We reported for flood fighting duty on Easter Sunday in 2009,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tammy Eckelberg, 231st Brigade Support Battalion. “Last year, we were deployed to Kosovo during Easter, and we are on flood duty again this year.”
The story was the same for Sgt. 1st Class Kendall Struxness, of West Fargo, N.D., who missed the past three Easter Sundays with his family while he was serving with Company A of the 231st Brigade Support Battalion.
“It’s tough, but I think it’s more difficult for our families,” Struxness said. “I did call my kids to see if they had found their Easter baskets; it’s hard not actually being there.”
Sgt. Ashley Gawryluk, of Dickinson, N.D., serves with the 957th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge) and was in Iraq two consecutive Easters, in 2003 and 2004, and missed sharing this holiday with her daughter, who is now 12. When asked about how her daughter feels about her mother’s absence, Gawryluk replies, “She’s used to it. Luckily my parents and family are very supportive of me serving in the National Guard, and they help out a lot when I am called to duty.”
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about a dozen 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.