US Army, December 06, 2014 - BISMARCK, N.D. by Staff Sgt. Eric Jensen - The North Dakota National Guard along with family, friends and community supporters honored about 40 Soldiers from the Bismarck-based Company C, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment (C/2-285th AVN) today during a Freedom Salute ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Bismarck.
The event celebrated the North Dakota aviators' successful yearlong deployment to Kosovo from which the unit returned home in October.
"The men and women of the Company C, 2-285th Aviation Regiment performed an important and successful mission while deployed to Kosovo," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "They provided essential assistance to U.S. and NATO forces and were an integral part of peacekeeping operations in the country. We are grateful to these Soldiers and their families for their distinguished service and are pleased to officially welcome them home."
Under the command of Capt. Russ Sundby, of Horace, North Dakota, the North Dakota Soldiers operated UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as part of the Kosovo Forces (KFOR 18) Aviation Task Force in support of the U.S.-led Multinational Battle Group-East, which conducts military peace support operations in Kosovo. The unit provided air transport for U.S. and NATO forces, to include training and assistance to the Kosovo Security Forces.
During the deployment, the C/2-285th AVN Soldiers flew about 2,000 hours providing troop and VIP transport, medical evacuation (medevac) hoists, sling-loads, firefighting support, parachute operations, quick reaction force (QRF) missions, riot control support and special patrol insertion and extraction (SPIES) training. Overall, the flight company transported 1,500 U.S. and NATO forces passengers.
"North Dakota's aviators again brought their expertise to make a difference in another part of the world," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "C/2-285th AVN's operations in Kosovo were a major success and were carried out safely. I'm pleased to be able to formally thank our Soldiers for their skilled and dedicated service, and to thank the family members, friends and employers who have supported them. "
Each Soldier honored today received a gift to present to a family member as thanks. More than half of the Soldiers recognized at the event received additional honors for having served on more than one deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Nathan Clarys was recognized for his fifth deployment.
Bismarck's C/2-285th AVN previously had deployed in 2009 to Iraq, where the unit's aviators flew more than 750 combat missions, totaling more than 6,200 flight hours. Assigned to the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, they were responsible for transporting senior officials, Soldiers, medical supplies and other cargo in support of the Global War on Terrorism.