Minot Air Guard squadron dispatches personnel into missile fields for the first time
By Capt Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 16, 2008
Minot, N.D. --
On Thursday the Minot-based 219 Security Forces Squadron (SFS) of the 119th Wing, North Dakota Air National Guard will once again mark its place in history by dispatching Air Guard personnel into the missile fields at Minot AFB for the first time.
"Putting guardsmen into the field to work side by side with the active duty is a significant accomplishment and it would not be happening without the exceptional Airmen of the 219th who have shown unwavering dedication to their mission," said North Dakota Governor John Hoeven.
"The 219 Security Forces have prepared and trained for this mission and I was proud of their accomplishments earlier this month with the Headquarters Air Force approval of their Personnel Reliability Program", said David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general. "This marks a milestone and the N.D. National Guard looks to the future through this exceptional partnership with the Minot Air Force Base."
This milestone of putting 219th SFS Airmen into the missile fields was made possible when the unit received Headquarters Air Force approval of their Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) for full-time Air Guard Members earlier this month.
"To be PRP approved means that we have implemented all of the necessary procedures and requirements set forth by the Secretary of Defense and the Air Force to ensure only the most reliable Airmen fill positions associated with missile field security" said Master Sgt. Lonnie Ballweg, 219th SFS Senior Medical Technician. "The approval of the 219th PRP program is significant because it allows full-time Guardsman of the 219th SFS to conduct mission specific training and support the 91st Missile Wing in day-to-day training and surge requirements."
On Thursday, Staff Sgt. John Chalupa and Airman 1st Class Erik Foss both of the 219 SFS will be the first PRP certified airman to deploy into the missile field.
"Sergeant Chalupa and Airman Foss are leading the way within the 219 SFS the same way that the 219th itself is leading the way in the nation. Guardsmen working alongside active duty airmen on a daily basis is the future and that is exactly what we're doing in Minot," said Col. Robert Becklund, 119th Wing commander.
Currently, the 219 SFS is working with the Headquarters Air Force to establish a special plan required for the implementation of traditional guardsman to the PRP program. Traditional guardsmen are part-time Air Guard members who typically serve one weekend a month, two weeks a year.
"We've had to overcome many hurdles, which are expected when you're forging your way in new territory. We could not have done this without the support and commitment of 'Team Minot.' No one has ever done anything like this before and we are working together to ensure it gets done right the first time," said Lt Col Tad Schauer, 219 SFS commander.
The relatively new squadron celebrated its official activation on Oct. 18, but recruiters began filling the 140 positions in April 2007. Once fully staffed, the 219 SFS will be the largest Air Guard SFS in the nation.
"It is very exciting because we just hit the halfway point in filling the positions in the 219 SFS. We are right on target for our recruiting goals, but we're not slowing down, said Master Sgt. Tanya Augdaul, 219 SFS recruiter. "We need to keep working hard to make sure people know that there are Air National Guard opportunities in the western part of the state."
Media is invited to Minot AFB to obtain interviews and footage of 219 SFS Airmen who will be preparing to go into the missile fields for the first time on Wednesday at approximately 9:00 a.m.
To arrange a media escort on base, please contact Tech.Sgt. Marelise Wood, Minot AFB Public Affairs, at 701-723-6212 no later than 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
If you have any questions regarding the information in this press release, please contact Capt. Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs Officer, at 701-451-2194.