FORT HOOD, Texas A group of North Dakota National Guard soldiers who have been serving in Afghanistan since January returned to North Dakota Aug. 13, nearly three months earlier than their expected return date.
The returning soldiers make up just under a quarter of the 40-member, Bismarck-based 814th Medical company (Area Support).
The soldiers arrived at Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 8, to conduct their demobilization process there before returning to North Dakota.
1st Sgt. Ken Baer, of Garrison, welcomes Sgt. Carol Kauk to the Fort Hood, Texas, area Aug. 8 where she will conduct the demobilization process before returning to Piedmont, S.C., where she resides. Kauk is among the first group of 814th Medical Company (Area Support) soldiers to return from the unit’s Afghanistan deployment.
"We are thrilled to have soldiers from the 814th Medical Company back on American soil," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "While deployed to Afghanistan, this highly-skilled unit performed an important mission and was a strong asset to the coalition forces."
Another quarter of the unit will return to the U.S. at the end of August and the remainder of the soldiers will return at the end of October. The early return of about half the unit is a result of the recent drawdown of American forces from Afghanistan.
North Dakota Army National Guard Chief of Staff Giselle "Gigi" Wilz was in Texas to greet the soldiers. "Any time we welcome soldiers home, it's a good day," she said.
Capt. Coty Sicble, of Bismarck, commands the 814th while 1st Sgt. Kevin Anderson, of Fargo, serves as the senior enlisted leader in country and 1st Sgt. Kenneth Baer, of Garrison, serves as the senior enlisted leader for the company's rear detachment in Bismarck. About half of the group are medics, but the unit also includes a doctor, dentist, nurse and physician assistant.
"It was rewarding to contribute to all the soldiers who were on missions in Afghanistan," said Sgt. Carol Kauk, of Piedmont, S.C. "But it feels good to be back in the states."
The 814th Medical Company's primary mission while serving under the 62nd Medical Brigade in Afghanistan is to provide patient transport between treatment facilities on base as well as medical treatment for coalition forces at a troop medical clinic.
This deployment served as the unit's first in the global war on terrorism, although about a dozen of the soldiers have previously deployed.
"Their performance was outstanding," said Baer, who was on the deployment for three months. "Two of the soldiers in the returning group provided the only lab and x-ray technical support available to the approximately 3,500 residents on Camp Phoenix."