Volume 123, Number 4
Leeds soldier serving in Iraq
For the past couple months the Minot-based soldiers of Alpha Company, 164th Engineers have been busy settling in Iraq, learning their new jobs and getting used to the surrounding areas.
The FOB (Forward Operating Base) where Alpha Company is located has many amenities. The dining facility offers meals four times every day. Soldiers on their free time can watch a movie at the movie theater or go swimming at either the indoor or the outdoor swimming pools. The FOB also has a fitness center that’s open 24 hours a day.
Even in their off time the soldiers of Alpha Company have activities to keep them busy. "Our location and living conditions have been great," said Sgt. Jerome Williams of Minot, Alpha Company 164th public affairs representative.
The support from home has been outstanding. Alpha Company has received letters and care packages from all over the state of North Dakota.
Alpha Company 164th public affairs representative Spc. David Young, 24, of Leeds said, "All the packages that everyone is sending are very nice, it’s good to know that everyone cares enough to send us things from home."
"The care packages are greatly appreciated; it’s nice to know that the people back home are thinking about us," said Sgt. Adam Ritchie, 28, of Minot.
Alpha Company 164 is becoming well-known around its area of operations. The missions that Alpha Company 164 conducts are making a big difference in the lives of fellow soldiers and Iraqi civilians.
"It’s a great feeling to know that we are improving the lives of the local population while saving the lives of fellow soldiers," said Spc. Travis Truelson, 22, of Minot.
Spc. Matthew Leaf, 29, of Moorhead, Minn. said, "Because of our missions the roads in our area are safer to travel on for all soldiers and civilians."
Alpha Company 164 has been successful in its missions in Iraq. Sgt. Jory Buchweits, 32, of Minot said, "It’s a good feeling having confidence in ourselves and our equipment, knowing we can complete our mission safely and effectively, thus making a difference for everyone in our immediate area."
Alpha Company was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom on Aug. 5, 2005. In November of 2005, Alpha Company arrived in Iraq to serve a one-year "Boots on Ground" and are expected to return home the beginning of 2007. The Minot-based Alpha Company 164 is comprised of soldiers from all over the state. The soldiers are from 44 North Dakota cities, two Minnesota cities, and one soldier is from North Carolina.
The 4th Platoon of Alpha Company, 164th Engineer Battalion is stationed in Iraq. The company is ordinarily headquartered in Minot.
David Young of Leeds is one of the soldiers in the company.
His company known as Trailbazers
It’s early morning and the sun is just beginning to appear on the horizon at LSA Anaconda, Iraq. Most soldiers and airmen are just beginning to wake and make their way to the dining facility for breakfast. As they walk past they notice the soldiers of ND Army National Guard, Minot-based A Company of the 164th Engineer Battalion gathered around an unfamiliar large piece of equipment. The soldiers of A Company 164 have been up for two hours preparing for the day’s mission and are receiving their mission brief.
Many of the soldiers and airmen stationed at LSA Anaconda curiously stop to ask the soldiers of A Company 164 how they intend to use the specialized equipment. The soldier’s typical response is "we are route clearance." The route clearance mission is also known as Trailblazing.
Trailblazers are responsible for rendering the roadways safe from IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) and insurgent activities. The Trailblazers first became renowned by the ND Army National Guard’s 141st Engineer Battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) II. The 141st paved the way for engineers performing route clearance missions in OIF III and IV. They were instrumental in acquiring much of the specialized equipment that is now being used by A Company 164 during Trailblazer missions. The piece of equipment that draws the most attention is known as the Buffalo.
The 13-ton behemoth stands nearly 14 feet tall and 30 feet long. It is designed with a special V-shaped underbelly to direct blasts away from the vehicle rather than absorb them. This design, combined with the thick-skinned Buffalo’s armor and ballistic glass, make for a formidable defense against roadside bombs.
Roadside bombs are the insurgent’s weapon of choice and the number one killer in Iraq. The Buffalo’s primary weapon is the 30-foot remote controlled arm with a retractable "spork" (spoon/fork) attached to the end of the arm. It is charged with investigating suspicious areas and items alongside the road at a safe distance.
The Buffalo is responsible for foiling many of the insurgents’ plans to target vulnerable convoys. The Buffalo works as part of a team.
RG-31 mine clearing vehicles and M1114 up armored Humvees provide security for the Buffalo while it is conducting investigations.
The Buffalo is not just all brawn, however. The spacious interior, comfortable seats and Mac Truck engine make for a powerful, yet surprisingly smooth ride. When asked about what it’s like to ride in the Buffalo Sgt. Troy Aannerud of Minot stated, "It’s kind of like a cross between a monster truck and a Cadillac."
Sgt. Michael Zietz of Velva said, "It’s kind of like a smooth ocean liner cutting through rough seas. It’s great. Every day I feel like I’m in a parade."
For every IED the Company A 164 Trailblazers find they save an average of 1.7 lives.
Members of the Minot-based ND Army National Guard Alpha Company, 164th Engineer Battalion’s 2nd Platoon attend a mission briefing in Iraq. In the background is the Buffalo.
Firemen receive $2,000
Robert Yri, center, general manager of the BTR Farmers Co-op at Niles and Leeds, is pictured presenting two $1,000 checks to Leeds Heavy Rescue, Inc. These were matching funds in conjunction with the 2006 member cooperative match program from the Land O’Lakes Foundation which makes donations that impact member communities. On the left is Paul Peterson, chief of the Leeds Fire Department and Steve Jorgenson, secretary-treasurer of the Leeds Fire Department.
Students send blankets
Leeds School FCCLA members pose with blankets they sent to victims of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. Blankets were sent to the Louisiana State FCCLA advisor who will distribute them. She had not previously received a donation such as this and was pleased that the Leeds Chapter took the initiative to send the blankets. Left to right, front row, are Brittnee Tarang, Dayna Pierson, Karlee Gronos, Whitney Streyle, Ali Strand, Ashley Smith and Kacy Strand. Second row: Samantha Swanson, Hope Keller, Amber Bracken, Nikki Herman, Callie Brossart and advisor Jane Brown. Third row: Derrek Leapaldt, Nik Severson and Bryce Zietz. Back row: RJ Darling, Casey Gullickson, George Herman, Cody Biby and Michael Tofsrud.
Science fair winners
The Maddock fourth, fifth and sixth grade students competed in a local science fair on February 23. There were 42 entries. Each student chose an experiment at the beginning of February and spent some class time as well as time at home working on the experiment.
Each had to construct a board with their hypothesis, procedure, data and conclusion on it to explain what their project entailed. High school students in the science program then judged each project applying points for meeting specific criteria, such as neatness, a high-quality hypothesis, complete data and a detailed explanation of the experiment. Medals were awarded to the first, second and third place experiments in each grade. Winners will compete in the regional science fair later in March. Left to right, front row, are fourth graders, Dylan Lauinger, 1st place; Kelsey Smith, 3rd place; and Alyssa Nystrom, 2nd place. In the middle row are fifth graders, Sara Schwanke, 3rd place; Katelynn Engh, second place; and Jaden Kallenbach, 1st place. In the back row are sixth graders, Kristen Smith, 1st place; Megan Lauinger, 3rd place (tie); Matt Knudson 2nd place; and Dylan Gigstad, 3rd place (tie).
Foreign students visit
Seven foreign exchange students from the Fessenden-Bowdon school gave a presentation to Maddock elementary students February 21. The theme for Reading Month, "Passing the Torch of Literacy," has had students following the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Each class has been researching one or two countries that have athletes competing in the games. The exchange students told the elementary students about their home countries and answered many questions. Exchange students, left to right, are Sung-Ju Yoo (South Korea), Kamil Wronowski (Poland), Tobias Herzog (Germany), Nuithapon "Banks" Kanasup (Thailand), Mario Arancibia (Chile), Florian Kiuchner (Germany) and Sun-Bok Lee (South Korea).
Performs with top dance team
The West Fargo High School Packatahnas dance team repeated as champions in the high kick division of the Universal Dance Association national championships recently. A member of the team is Kallista Nilson, daughter of Michael and Susan Nilson of West Fargo. She is the granddaughter of Jerry and Isabelle Liska of West Fargo and Vi Nilson of Maddock. The team led a field of 26 teams in the competition in Orlando, Fla.
Three employees of Summers Mfg. were recognized for years of service at the company’s annual Christmas party at the Spirit Lake Casino & Resort. Joel "Johan" Lunde, left, of Maddock, was recognized for 30 years of service to the company. He is congratulated by Larry Summers, right, president of Summers Mfg. Lunde joined Summers in 1975. He worked in several departments over the years, including assembly, fabrication, parts, setup and shipping and receiving. He currently works on outside materials handling.
Dennette Buckmier is pictured with Larry Summers, who presented her with a 20-year certificate of service. She joined Summers in 1985 and has worked in several positions. She is presently accounts receivable manager. She and her husband, Robert, live on a farm east of Maddock with their four children.
Chuck Lee, left, was recognized for 20 years of service by Larry Summers. He joined Summers in 1985 and is the eastern North Dakota and Manitoba sales manager for Summers. He and his wife, Colleen, live in Thompson.