100 days and nights of the N.D. GuardThis past winter’s heavy snowfall led to historic spring flooding all across North Dakota. From our largest cities to our rural communities, the citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen of the North Dakota National Guard responded in record numbers to assist local communities and first responders.
By: Gov. John Hoeven, Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, The Jamestown Sun
This past winter’s heavy snowfall led to historic spring flooding all across North Dakota. From our largest cities to our rural communities, the citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen of the North Dakota National Guard responded in record numbers to assist local communities and first responders.
We are proud of the fact that the Guard worked tirelessly, shoulder to shoulder with fellow North Dakotans to help communities stem the rising waters threatening homes, farms, businesses and infrastructure. The eyes of the nation were on North Dakota during many of the days of this fight, often featured on national news and in foreign countries. North Dakotans working together during this crisis served as a beacon to all Americans demonstrating that success in the face of prevailing disaster is possible with hard work, technical expertise and “can-do” spirit.
It’s been a long and tough fight; initially a sprint which eventually developed into a marathon. We placed our first Guardsmen on state active duty on March 19, 2009, and nearly 100 incredible days later, we withdrew the last of our uniformed flood fighting forces from Jamestown on June 24, effectively closing out this historic chapter of North Dakota National Guard history.
Our uniformed members and civilian employees of the North Dakota National Guard and the Department of Emergency Services did an outstanding job executing their duties during this state-wide emergency. As the first military responders, the North Dakota National Guard assisted their friends and neighbors state-wide. At the peak of the flood fighting efforts, more than 2,000 men and women of the North Dakota National Guard were on duty to help protect lives, homes, businesses and infrastructure. Helping citizens protect their communities is an essential component to our homeland security mission.
The list of accomplishments during this fight is impressive. All across flooded areas of North Dakota, Guardsmen filled, transported and emplaced sandbags, patrolled countless miles of dikes, manned traffic control points and pumped away thousands of gallons of water from flooded areas. They erected earthen dikes and repaired roads. As the waters subsided, Guardsman buried dead cattle helping protect citizens from the spread of disease.
Our National Guard utilized new flood fighting tools and technology, erecting HESCO barriers and the Rapid Deployment Flood Walls as well as placing giant one-ton sandbags by helicopter and heavy equipment. When an ice jam caused the waters of the Missouri River to threaten the Bismarck-Mandan area, Guardsmen assisted civilian contractors in destroying the jam by drilling holes in the ice, preparing and detonating explosive charges not once, but twice.
Guardsmen also produced electrical power with their diesel generators, helped to organize civilian volunteers and manned quick reaction forces, reacting at a moment’s notice to breaches in the levies and dikes.
Soldiers and airmen assisted with evacuations, patrolled in bridge boats and provided security. Military aviators flew more than 100,000 flight miles in helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, transported key personnel and equipment, provided timely aerial reconnaissance of flooded areas and salted rivers to promote melting in ice-gridlocked areas. And members of the North Dakota Civil Air Patrol also provided invaluable assistance by supporting air operations and performing aerial reconnaissance missions, which were critical to understanding the flooding threat.
We remain extremely grateful and honored that our brave men and women in uniform both on the front lines and behind the scenes were supported wherever they served. The warm reception and appreciation shown by local communities toward our Guardsmen helped keep them motivated and focused. Everywhere our soldiers and airmen were on duty they were greeted with open arms and treated to neighborly hospitality. Citizens provided snacks and drinks, walking out of their way to shake their hands and even hugging their uniformed neighbors. To the families, employers, students and campuses that stood with and supported our soldiers and airmen during this fight in any capacity, we say thank you, as well.
As the commander-in-chief and as the adjutant general for the North Dakota National Guard, we are extremely proud of all the men and women of the Guard and our dedicated employees of the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services. Thank you for all of your service and personal sacrifices during this historic state response.
Whenever the nation, the state and/or our communities have called on you, you have effectively responded bringing all of your energy to the fight. The North Dakota National Guard has again proven that it is a great organization, highly skilled, motivated and prepared. You have lived up to the National Guard motto, “Always Ready, Always There.”
Thank you for being there when your communities and state needed you.
(Hoeven is governor of North Dakota. Sprynczynatyk is adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard)