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North Dakota unit receives long-awaited ‘Meritorious’ Award

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – More than six years after its return from a mission to Afghanistan, Company A of the 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment finally received tangible proof of one of the highest unit awards the Army can bestow for meritorious service.
April 28, at a special send-off ceremony for members of the North Dakota National Guard’s 1-188th ADA deploying to Washington to protect the skies over the nation’s capital, Company A – represented by Lt. Col. Rob Fugere, 1st Sgt. Joshua D. Entzel and Spc. Douglas J. Eagon – received the Meritorious Unit Award ribbon to display on their unit flag or guidon for all to see.
The unit served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from March 22, 2006, to Dec. 6, 2006, under the 91st Military Police Battalion and Combined Joint Task Force 76. Its mission was to support operations to train and enhance the capability of the Afghan National Police and Border Police.
An award announcement from the Department of the Army reads that the unit’s “ability to provide training partnership and combine operations throughout Afghanistan was vital to the security of the Afghan people and contributed to the overall success of Combined Joint Task Force 76.”
The “outstanding performance of duty is in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflects distinct credit upon the unit,” wrote Lt. Col. Stewart Stephenson Jr., chief of awards and decorations branch with U.S. Army Human Resources Command, in the award announcement dated May 20, 2010.
The award and the right to display the streamer on the unit flag or guidon had to be confirmed by the U.S. Center for Military History following the announcement. The CMH then designed and manufactured a decoration streamer and sent it to Human Resources Command for distribution to the units eligible for the award.
By virtue of the award, members of Company A also are eligible to wear the award on their Army dress uniform.
Company A mobilized more than 150 soldiers, including 35 volunteers and two soldiers who had previously served in Iraq, for the mission to Afghanistan. They trained at Fort Lewis, Wash., before heading overseas to Afghanistan to provide 24/7 checkpoint and personnel security.
The unit suffered the tragic losses of four of its soldiers: Sgt. Travis A. Van Zoest, 21, and Spc. Curtis R. Mehrer, 21, both of Bismarck, killed in June 2006; and Cpl. Nathan J. Goodiron, 25, Mandaree, N.D., and Cpl. Christopher K. Kleinwachter, 29, Wahpeton, both killed in November 2006.
Three Soldiers also were wounded during the tour: Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Wicks, Bismarck; Sgt. Samuel Floberg, Fargo; and Sgt. Claude O’ Berry, Minot.

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