Mandan News

Engineer company lands on U.S. soil

Nearly 80 soldiers with the North Dakota Army National Guard's 818th Engineer Company are welcomed back to U.S. soil March 12. The soldiers served as combat engineers in Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Jungels, North Dakota Army National Guard

Nearly 80 soldiers with the North Dakota Army National Guard’s 818th Engineer Company are welcomed back to U.S. soil March 12. The soldiers served as combat engineers in Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Jungels, North Dakota Army National Guard

Almost a year after the community hosted a send-off in their honor, nearly 100 soldiers with the North Dakota National Guard’s 818th Engineer Company are back on U.S. soil.

The soldiers served as combat engineers in Afghanistan, where they cleared routes of improvised explosive devices to protect coalition forces, ensuring safe movement and mission accomplishment.

“This is a great day as we welcome the members of the 818th Engineer Company back to the country they have so honorably and courageously served this past year,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “They did an outstanding job while deployed to Afghanistan, and we are grateful for their distinguished service. Sadly, two of the unit’s members did not return home with them. We will never forget Sgt. 1st Class Darren Linde and Spc. Tyler Orgaard and their families for the ultimate sacrifice they have made on our behalf.”

Linde and Orgaard were killed in action Dec. 3. Spc. Ian Placek was injured in the attack and recently returned to Bismarck to continue his recovery.

Capt. Robert Bohl, of Flasher, commands the unit, which is based in Williston with a detachment in Hazen. Sgt. Maj. Rashad Schaffner, of Dawson, serves as the unit’s senior enlisted leader. Nearly half of the soldiers in the unit had previously deployed. A third volunteered to join the unit specifically to serve on the Afghanistan deployment.