North Dakota Documentary Takes Department of Defense-Level Honor

  • Published
  • By SSGT Amy Wieser Willson
  • NDNG Public Affairs
North Dakota National Guard documentary recently made state history by earning honors in a Department of Defense competition. The video, titled "Guarded Waters," documented 2009 flood operations. It was named second best in the documentary category among all of the entries throughout the Department of Defense, which includes all military branches and civilian defense enterprises. Video production recognition at this level has never before happened in the North Dakota National Guard.

"This achievement is a testament to the incredible level of talent we have in visual information and multimedia productions in the North Dakota National Guard," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "The Soldiers and Airmen who tell the North Dakota National Guard story, whether in this documentary or in the numerous other media they use on a daily basis, capture the heart of our Guardsmen, their mission and their family connections. I can't thank them enough for their dedication to our overall mission."

The broadcast production contest had only four categories. The Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Md., manages the contest, which takes place every other year. This year, only one National Guard entry rose to the top -- that of North Dakota.

"A win of this magnitude in the military would be comparable to a small-town television station beating out all of the national news networks," said Lt. Col. Rick Smith, North Dakota National Guard deputy public information officer. "The equipment and staff within the multimedia shops of the North Dakota National Guard are dwarfed by the production centers in the Department of Defense that produced the other entries. This award really testifies to the immense talent and dedication of our Soldiers and Airmen in producing exceptional, quality work."

Before being able to compete at the Department of Defense level, "Guarded Waters" first won as the best documentary across the entire U.S. Army. At the Department of Defense competition, first place was just a half point away. A panel of professional judges from local and national organizations with expertise in instructional design, media production and educational technology rated the entries on a 120-point scale. As many as 40 points were awarded in four categories, weighted in the order listed: achievement of purpose, appropriate use of medium, creativity and originality and production value, which includes editing, lighting, writing and composition. North Dakota received 97.5 points while the documentary winner, "Airmen Outside the Wire," earned 98 points. The winning entry was produced by the U.S. Air Force Television Center Headquarters at the Pentagon.

The video production combined the efforts of visual information and multimedia specialists in both North Dakota's Army National Guard and Air National Guard. Scott Hennen, local radio host, provided the voice-over.

View the award-winning "Guarded Waters" online at