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Happy Hooligans prepare for Ghana deployment

Fargo, N.D. -- As the 2010 North Dakota National Guard flood operations come to a close, the 119th Wing Civil Engineer Squadron is already in full swing preparing for their next deployment, a two-week humanitarian mission to Africa through the State Partnership Program (SPP).

Since 2004, the North Dakota National Guard has developed a professional relationship with Ghana as part of the Department of Defense's SPP. This program aligns states with partner countries encouraging the development of economic, political and military ties.

"It's exciting for our squadron to go somewhere that we've never been before.
We have had the opportunity to travel to several unique places in the past, like Romania, Caribbean, Germany and Honduras twice, but going to Ghana will be a first for us as a squadron," said Maj. John Gibbs, 119th Wing Civil Engineer Squadron.

Gibbs is part of a three person advance team that will leave Monday. The rest of the group, which consists of about 40 Happy Hooligans, are scheduled to depart April 19.

The North Dakota Airmen, along with a group of Airmen from the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron based out of Michigan, will work together to complete two major construction projects while they're in the country.

The first project will consist of renovating a medical laboratory facility at the Ghanaian Armed Forces 2nd Battalion in Takoradi, a city in the western region of Ghana. The Airmen will replace the roof, construct interior partitions, plaster and paint walls, conduct electrical work, fix the flooring and install air conditioning units and windows in the facility.

The second project will take place at the Acota Academy at Burma Camp, near the capital city of Accra. The Airmen will be tasked with window installation, painting and electrical work.

"Our primary mission as a Civil Engineer Squadron is to be able to support air operations worldwide and these types of deployments help us to remain trained and prepared to do just that," said Gibbs. "Not only will it be an incredible experience, but it will also give us a chance to train in our contingency skills that are vital in our jobs."

Since the inception of SPP, over 180 North Dakota Guardsman, civilian officials, Ghanaian military and civilians have conducted SPP events and workshops to include topics such as disaster management, aviation safety and maintenance, military medical and community health programs, military engineering, public affairs, and leadership.

For more information about this news release, contact Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing public affairs officer, at 701-451-2194.


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