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Anna G. Larson, Published September 09 2012

Hooligans honored as Hometown Heroes

FARGO – North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple called the 119th Wing of the North Dakota Air National Guard “a formidable force” at a ceremony Sunday that honored 250 airmen at the North Dakota Air National Guard base in Fargo.

Airmen who served 30 or more consecutive days of active duty between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010, were honored for their service during the second-ever Hometown Heroes event. The ceremony commended 250 airmen and their families.

Gov. Dalrymple, Sen. John Hoeven, Congressman Rick Berg and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, among others, spoke to the crowd and thanked those who served.

The 119th Wing airmen, or the “Happy Hooligans,” were among the first called into service following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Brett Anderson, an explosive ordnance disposal technician who served 309 consecutive days on orders in Afghanistan, said it felt good to be honored. He received a Tier 2 award.

“It’s nice to get that recognition,” he said. “I’m glad I can say I did it. I’m proud.”

Anderson was in Afghanistan until April 2010. While he was away, he said he missed his friends, family and “the little things” like mowing the lawn.

“It’s the small, everyday things that you take for granted,” he said.

Clint Lowe, an aircraft quality assurance inspector, served 45 days in Qatar in 2009 and received a Tier 1 award. He recalled a poignant moment from his time overseas.

He and hundreds of other military personnel were working out on the line as an airplane with the bodies of seven fallen Marines taxied in.

“When the plane died, the entire ramp came to a stop,” Lowe said.

He said everyone turned toward the airplane as the color guard stepped out and commenced a ceremony on the ramp to honor the fallen soldiers.

“That was incredibly moving,” he said. “When you see something like that, you think ‘there’s a purpose to this.’ ”

The first Hometown Heroes event took place in 2010 and honored those who had served during the first eight years of the war on terrorism.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525