North Dakota elected officials oversaw a send-off ceremony for members of North Dakota’s National Guard, who will again be heading to the nation's capital.

On Saturday, June 5, Gov. Doug Burgum joined Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both Republicans, in Grand Forks for a ceremony honoring the deployment of members of the North Dakota National Guard’s 1st Battalion of the 188th Air Defense Artillery. The 225 guard members will return to the National Capital Region for a third time, where the unit will provide airspace security under Operation Noble Eagle for up to 14 months.

“No matter where or when, the members of our North Dakota National Guard are always ready to serve,” said Hoeven. “This unit is no stranger to being deployed and as they return to protect our nation’s capital, we thank them and their families for making this sacrifice on behalf of our state and country. We look forward to their safe return.”

Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general, also spoke at the ceremony, which was attended by about 600 soldiers, family and guests. The unit is commanded by Lt. Col. Walyn Vannurden and the senior enlisted Soldier is Command Sgt. Maj. Russ Garrett.

According to the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, a military information service for among others, members of the media, Operation Noble Eagle is a surveillance mission focusing on surveillance and control of the airspace over Canada and the United States. The mission began after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

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“This is the 12th mobilization for the 1-188th ADA since 2004, making it the most-deployed unit in the North Dakota Army National Guard,” Burgum said. “We are deeply grateful for their courageous service and sacrifice, and we acknowledge and appreciate the incredible service and sacrifice of their families as well. North Dakota stands in strong support of these families and our soldiers as they fulfill their duty to protect our nation and our most cherished freedoms.”

The air defenders supported the Operation Noble Eagle mission twice before from July 2013 to April 2014 and March 2017 to February 2018. Soldiers from this unit deployed to Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping mission, six times to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq.

“Once again the nation calls on our great air defender Soldiers to help protect our nation’s capital. Your professionalism and expertise will ensure that your extremely important mission is successful,” said Dohrmann. “I am also appreciative of the great support by our employers and the community of Grand Forks. We couldn’t do our jobs successfully without you.”