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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published January 13 2013

Event celebrates North Dakota Army National Guard troops and their families

BISMARCK – Members of North Dakota’s Congressional delegation, Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Adjutant Gen. David Sprynczynatyk said thank you Sunday to the North Dakota Army National Guard soldiers who returned home in September from a yearlong deployment and their families.

The Freedom Salute celebration was held at the Army Aviation Support Facility. The event is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history, designed to publicly acknowledge Army Guard Soldiers called to duty since 2001.

“This is the happy occasion, and we are so glad to see you return back to us,” Dalrymple told the crowd of more than 200 soldiers and family members.

The 112th Aviation Regiment provided 55 security and support troops for Kosovo Forces 15, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization peacekeeping operation that deployed to southeastern Europe in September 2011.

“We have to thank and recognize our soldiers; they are putting themselves on the line for us,” Sen. John Hoeven, D.N.D., said. “It’s important to be (in North Dakota) to send them off and when they get home.”

The unit received an informal welcome home Sept. 13.

Lt. Col. William Watson, of Bismarck, commanded the unit, and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Schuchard, of Jamestown, served as the senior enlisted leader.

Sprynczynatyk asked the crowd to stand and applaud Schuchard for his 35 years of service and retirement at the end of the month. He is currently using vacation time as his paperwork for retirement is being processed.

“It’s nice they came and recognized the soldiers,” Schuchard’s wife, Lorie, said about North Dakota’s political and military leaders after the ceremony. “The soldiers deserve it. They make a lot of sacrifices and need to hear and see it from them.”

Sunday’s event was her second Freedom Salute ceremony since her husband was deployed in 2004. On Sunday, she was presented with a clock that was given to her husband for his two deployments overseas.

She has heard speeches by state leaders to her husband’s unit before and says she always finds Sprynczynatyk’s remarks show how much he cares about the soldiers.

“What he says and does comes from the heart. It’s nice to hear that,” Lorie Schuchard said.

Sprynczynatyk told the crowd that while deployed, soldiers worry about their daily tasks and families, who have the most difficult mission.

Lorie Schuchard said her two daughters, Hannah, 26, and Gretchen, 22, grew up hearing the phrase, “Daddy will be home soon, he’s taking care of the soldiers.”

She said her family adjusted over the 35 years and became self-sufficient in Jamestown, but is now happy to have their father, who commuted to Bis-marck every day for work, home full time.

“It’s nice having him home more,” said Hannah Schuchard, who is still adjusting to her father’s retirement.

Lorie Schuchard said she sent her husband a “honey-do” list of tasks to do around the house while he was still overseas, knowing he would be in “vacation mode” after he returned.

She said many friends and family heard her husband was retiring and didn’t know what he would do.

“He lived and breathed the military,” she said.

Robert Schuchard, who declined to comment, already has taken a job with the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department working at the municipal golf course.

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