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Veterans recognized as ESGR volunteer

Rugby native receives Seven Seals Award

Submitted Photo Dave Johnston holds his Seven Seals Award, given in recognition of his volunteer work through the North Dakota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

FARGO–Retired Navy Capt. Dave Johnston, a Rugby native, was awarded the Seven Seals Award June 23 by the North Dakota Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, also known as ESGR, for his 16 years of service to the ND ESGR committee, working with service members, veterans and employers.

ESGR is a Department of Defense program established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment.

The Seven Seals Award is the broadest and most inclusive award given by ESGR and is presented at the discretion of the state chair or by ESGR senior leadership. The Seven Seals Award is presented in recognition of significant individual or organizational achievement, initiative or support that promotes and supports the ESGR mission, to include the efforts of the more than 4,500 volunteers who carry out ESGR’s mission across the nation on a daily basis.

ESGR North Dakota Chairman Delton Steele said the Seven Seals Award, which is in reference to the seven reserve branches in the Armed Forces, is presented to an individual who promotes the mission of ESGR through community service. There’s no nomination for the award, and it’s given based on the actions of the individual receiving the award.

“Dave is a Navy veteran who has served as a volunteer for 16 years and most recently as the ND ESGR vice-chair,” Steele said. “When a service member gets deployed, his family is not deployed but has to survive without that individual in the home. It’s a serious situation, and at times it becomes very, very difficult. The employer will support him as well as their family. Dave goes above and beyond in his service to our ND Reserve military family. He has averaged over 400 hours of volunteer time for the past three years which translates into presenting 70 ESGR awards to employers.

“Dave is the ‘glue’ that keeps the Fargo Region active. When he is not carrying out his duties of state vice chair and Fargo Region chair, Dave volunteers with the VFW Honor Guard and is affectionately known to his ESGR and military friends as ‘Navy Dave’ as he also serves as state chair of the North Dakota Navy League. He also represents ESGR on the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee,” he said.

Johnston also has recruited other volunteers, presented numerous ESGT awards and led and organized ESGR “Boss Lifts” for the past five years.

Johnston received the Seven Seals Award through the mail due to COVID-19 Department of Defense safe distancing requirements.

“This award is truly a surprise to me as I have always worked hard on our ESGR programs and have not looked at the hours that I put in,” Johnston said. “I am very thankful to work with our Fargo ESGR Committee and blessed to have an ESGR State Chairman in Delton Steele.”

Johnston graduated from Rugby High School in 1962 and North Dakota State University before joining the Navy.

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