Pick City soldier, Guard group return from Afghanistan

A North Dakota National Guard soldier from Pick City is among several soldiers who returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan Wednesday.

1st Sgt. Russell Garrett, of Pick City, is the senior noncommissioned officer with the Bismarck-based Detachment 42 Operational Support Airlift.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Travis Bridwell, of Bismarck, is the unit’s commander.

The soldiers have been serving in Afghanistan since last winter. They arrived in Texas Wednesday where they will go through demobilization processing at Fort Hood. They are expected to return to North Dakota in several days.

“This has been yet another successful mission for our highly experienced and qualified aviators,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, who was in Texas for the group’s arrival. “They have flown missions around the globe and, for the past year, they’ve provided invaluable support to troops on the ground in Afghanistan. I’m grateful for their service and sacrifice this past year, as well as for their families’ sacrifices back home.”

The highly specialized aviation unit operated King Air 300 aircraft equipped with Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Surveillance System platforms to provide aerial surveillance and support for military members on the ground. They served alongside other fixed-wing detachments from Arkansas, Maine, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and Utah. Together, the units comprised Task Force ODIN, which stands for observe, detect, identify and neutralize.

This is the unit’s third deployment during the global war on terrorism. The unit also deployed from April 2009 to February 2010 to Djibouti and from September 2004 to March 2005 to Afghanistan.

With the unit’s return to the United States, only a few North Dakota Guardsmen on individual deployments remain overseas, although members of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment are expected to arrive in Kosovo soon for a yearlong mission.