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Airmen Honored for Afghanistan Service

12/14/13 -- After having given seven months of their lives to ensuring the security of coalition forces in Afghanistan, about 30 North Dakota Air National Guard Airmen received formal recognition for their accomplishments today.

"The members of the 119th Security Forces Squadron performed an important and dangerous mission while in Afghanistan and did an outstanding job protecting coalition forces and assets," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who spoke at the event at Fargo's Doublewood Inn. "We are grateful to these Airmen and their families for their exemplary service to our state and nation. We are proud to officially welcome them home and thank them for a job well done."

The Airmen, part of the 119th Security Forces Squadron, served in several sectors in Bagram on a variety of security missions. They provided security on the perimeter and flightline at Bagram Airfield; served on Fly-Away Security Teams that protected crews, aircraft and cargo; managed busy pedestrian and vehicle entry control points; and served on over-watch and outside-the-wire security teams.

"It was a big mission, and the expectations and requirements were high," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, who also addressed the Airmen and their families at today's event. "You not only met but exceeded those expectations, making history as the first and only expeditionary security forces squadron in the world."

The Airmen were part of the first-ever effort, which involved protecting the lives of about 36,000 coalition forces and securing about $3.5 billion worth of assets needed to support the Operation Enduring Freedom mission.

During today's event, Master Sgt. Joshua Clarke and Master Sgt. Grant Lonski, the senior enlisted leaders on the deployment, presented flags to Dalrymple and Sally Johnson, a representative of Sen. John Hoeven. The Airmen received the flags -- a state flag from Dalrymple and a U.S. flag from Hoeven -- prior to their deployment in February and March of this year. The flags were flown in Afghanistan and then cased and returned as a thank you to the elected officials.

The Airmen, 17 of whom were on their first deployment, returned home to their families in October.