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Published August 21 2012

Video: Guard to station Black Hawk helicopter in Fargo

FARGO – The Army National Guard says stationing a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Fargo will make the Guard better equipped to respond to natural disasters, search and rescue missions and other needs in eastern North Dakota.

Fargo and Bismarck also will share the UH-72 Lakota and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters on a rotational basis, the Guard announced Tuesday.

The moves are the beginning of a growing Army aviation presence in eastern North Dakota, a news release stated.

Lt. Col. Jerry Anderson, state Army aviation officer for the North Dakota National Guard, said plans call for stationing three Black Hawk helicopters in Fargo by late 2014 as part of a medical evacuation detachment with 25 to 30 personnel.

One Lakota light utility helicopter, which will replace the Kiowa early next year, also will be rotated between Fargo and Bis-marck, Anderson said. The helicopters are used for search and rescue operations and to assist law enforcement agencies, he said.

The Guard has leased hangar space from the Fargo Jet Center to house the helicopters, Anderson said.

Since 1958, North Dakota Army National Guard aircraft have flown solely from the Army Aviation Support Facility in Bis-marck.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple, U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota’s adjutant general, are expected to address the changes during a news conference today in Fargo.

Black Hawk helicopters have been used extensively in North Dakota’s spring flood fights in recent years, including 23 missions in spring 2011.

During the 2009 record flood in Fargo, when water started spurting from under a steel cofferdam at Oak Grove Lutheran School, flooding two buildings on campus, a Black Hawk was used to strategically place 1-ton sandbags to plug the leak.

Black Hawk helicopters and a Chinook helicopter also were used in April 2009 to drop 1,000-pound sandbags to save the Clausen Springs Dam near Kathryn, south of Valley City.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528