FARGO Minot and area members of the North Dakota National Guard were among Guardsmen honored for their extraordinary achievements at the State Associations Combined Conference at the Doublewood Inn in Fargo March 9.
Officers of the Year were selected by North Dakota's National Guard Association of the United States, chapter, a professional organization that N.D. Guard members may choose to join.
For the N.D. Army National Guard, Maj. Robert Bohl, of Flasher, was named Field-Grade Officer of the Year. He is the operations officer for the 164th Engineer Battalion in Minot. He served in Afghanistan with the 818th Engineer Company (Sapper), as its company commander, from April 2012-April 2013.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, left, North Dakota adjutant general, visits with Pastor Stephen Holmes, a family readiness group leader in Garrison, at the North Dakota National Guard Volunteer Symposium held in Fargo, March 9, shown in this photo by Staff Sgt. Brett Miller. Holmes received the Gold Award.
The N.D. Army National Guard's "Best Warriors" received award trophies at the conference after procuring the titles during the Best Warrior Competition, which took place this past August at Camp Grafton Training Center at Devils Lake.
Sgt. Richard Coughlin, of Stanley, a member of the 818th Engineer Company (Sapper), won the state-level Best Warrior Competition in the noncommissioned officer category.
The N.D. National Guard's Service Member and Family Support Division annually gives out awards recognizing volunteers and organizations for their outstanding commitment to military members and their families. The SMFS began the volunteer award recognition in 2008.
Those from the local area honored during the N.D. National Guard's Volunteer Symposium held at the Ramada Plaza and Suites in Fargo on March 9 were:'
Daryn Hoover, of Minot, received the Extra Mile Award.
The honor is presented to two North Dakota National Guard retirees - one Air Guard and one Army Guard - who distinguish themselves by continuing to provide outstanding and exceptional service to soldiers and airmen through volunteering.
Hoover, who represented the N.D. Army National Guard and is a former member, is a family readiness group co-leader for the 164th Engineer Battalion. His wife also volunteers with the group as its secretary. The couple help with various family activities while volunteering for the unit. During the holiday season this year, the Hoovers arranged an appearance from Santa Claus for the 164th soldiers' children.
Retired Maj. Gen. Alexander Macdonald, of Fargo, representing the N.D. Air National Guard who is a former N.D. adjutant general, also received the Extra Mile Award.
This year's Gold Award was given to Pastor Stephen Holmes, of Garrison. The award is presented to one volunteer who shows long-term, consistent and dedicated support while volunteering with the N.D. National Guard's Family Program and within their community.
Holmes has been a family readiness group leader in the Garrison community for 13 years. In that role, he has organized hundreds of support group meetings, presentations, dinners and gatherings for service members and their families. Holmes also has volunteered and served as a member of the Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee for the past 10 years.
"Steve consistently chooses to further his knowledge and education in the area of military deployments, family support, integrating veterans back into their communities and suicide prevention by attending training and workshops related to these subjects," said the person who nominated Holmes for the Gold Award.
The Community Purple Award was presented to the North Dakota Beef Commission for its support of soldiers and airmen during the North Dakota State Fair in Minot.
The award is presented to a community group or organization that best embraces the "purple concept" by working with both N.D. Air and Army Guard members and families.
Each year, the organization provides a free picnic at the State Fair for military members and their families, including games and activities for their children. Since 2004, the N.D. Beef Commission has served more than 14,000 meals to military members at the fair picnic.