North Dakota Air National Guard Assists Flood Fight
By Capt. Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 08, 2009
Fargo, N.D. -- Since March 19th, the Happy Hooligans of the North Dakota Air National Guard made major contributions to the flood fight as Airmen raised their hand to volunteer for flood duty in the Red River Valley.
"Despite our already high operations tempo in ongoing combat deployments and our numerous missions taking place 24/7 -- which include air base and missile field security, airfield fire and crash rescue and flying the predator unmanned aerial system -- the Happy Hooligans are playing a significant role in the ongoing flood-fighting mission," said Col. Robert Becklund, 119th Wing commander.
"Including all personnel performing our military missions, on deployments and the Airmen involved in the flood fight, nearly 100 percent of our personnel have been involved full-time in either state or federal duty these past couple of weeks. This is a notable achievement and reflects upon our strong Midwest work ethic and our ability to be there for the state when called upon by the Governor while also helping to maintain security around the world," said Becklund.
Airmen of the 119th Wing were assigned duties ranging from levee patrol, traffic control points, filling and placing sandbags, driving skid-steer loaders, operating heavy equipment and manning quick reaction force positions. In addition, to the activities happening all over the region, many Airmen were tasked with duties to support flood operations at the 119th Wing or at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, located just a few miles north of the base.
"We had Airmen who participated in the receipt, storage and issue of flood fighting supplies and equipment staged at the 119th Wing. These items were stockpiled for distribution and use by various agencies and volunteers in the Fargo-Moorhead area," said Capt. Brad Jernberg, 119th Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) Operations Officer.
Supplies and equipment staged at the 119th Wing included empty sandbags, pallets of filled sandbags, pumps, HESCO barriers, Humvees and a variety of other heavy equipment assets.
"Airmen from our squadron provided a large amount of essential equipment and supplies needed to support the operation. From the moment this kicked off we were supporting the Guardsmen fighting the flood by providing critical items such as gloves, boots, protective equipment and cold weather gear to those who needed it," Jernberg said.
C-21 aircraft from the 119th Wing as well as helicopters from the North Dakota Army National Guard, Coast Guard and National Guard units from surrounding states assisted in the flood fight by launching, surveying, recovering and refueling at the 119th Wing.
The 119th Wing Communications Flight supplied radios and cell phones to military members in the field and helped provide direct video feeds from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Predator B Unmanned Aerial System that patrolled the Red River Valley monitoring ice jams.
Medical personnel of the 119th Wing reviewed immunization records and provided required shots to Airmen and Soldiers.
"It was our primary responsibility to see military members for sick call and assist with minor care injuries and ailments. If it was something serious they were referred to a local health care facility for treatment," said Master Sgt. Chris Andvik, 119th Wing Medical Group.
"Even with the type of duty and extended hours that everyone was working, we had very few injuries. This is a clear indication of our medical readiness and the fact that everyone looked out for each other while performing their duties" Andvik said.
In addition, the dining facility at the 119th Wing was open 24 hours a day to feed Soldiers and Airmen. The operations began on April 28th and ended on Friday. Military members from all over North Dakota and surrounding states suddenly found a new home at the 119th Wing.
"Like other volunteers in the area, military members were working long hours, and it's hard work. A number of them had flood issues of their own at home, but they were still here providing a critical component, keeping everyone fed and doing what they can to help out our state. The least we could do was make sure they had a hot meal when they needed it," said Tech. Sgt. David Mehus, 119th Wing Services Flight.
While some of the North Dakota Air National Guard members have been released from duty as the Fargo flood waters recede, many continue to assist government agencies fighting the Red River floodwaters as the region prepares for another crest and continues to respond to flooding in the northern area of the state.
Currently, about 1,000 Airmen and Soldiers remain on flood duty in North Dakota. Equipment is staged at locations across the state to facilitate a rapid response to flood emergencies, and the Guard anticipates activating additional forces in preparation for the second crest in many areas.
For more information regarding this news release, please contact Capt. Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs Officer, at 701-451-2194.
To see high resolution pictures and b-roll of N.D. National Guard Airmen and Soldiers participating in the flood fight, please see our FTP site:
FTP Server: ftp://ftp.state.nd.us
Password: PIO2493 (case sensitive)
To see previous news releases and flood footage, check out the following Web sites: