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NEWS | May 4, 2010

Happy Hooligans complete mission in Ghana

By Courtesy Story

Fargo, N.D., - On May 3, the North Dakota Air National Guard will welcome Airmen scheduled to return home from a two-week humanitarian mission in Ghana. 

The 34 Airmen are members of the 119th Wing Civil Engineer Squadron, who deployed to Ghana April 19 to work on two major construction projects there. They replaced a group of Airmen from the 127th Civil Engineer Squadron from the Michigan Air National Guard. 

"It was impressive to see everything that was being accomplished by these North Dakota Airmen," said Army Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, the adjutant general of North Dakota, who visited Ghana last week. "This was a humanitarian mission to provide construction in a training environment.

"Since we began working with the State Partnership Program six years ago, we have formed a great relationship with the people of Ghana and being able to perform missions like these is not only rewarding, but beneficial in today's military environment."

Last week, the Airmen finished work on a complex at the School of Trade Training at Burma Camp, a Ghanaian military complex near Accra, Ghana's capital. They painted the facility, installed doors and windows, replaced walls, completed electrical work, installed fans and air conditioning, plastered the exterior walls and more at the building that will be used to provide training to the Ghanaian Armed Forces.

"We have had the chance to work side by side with the Ghanaian Army Engineers on these projects," said Maj. John Gibbs of the 119th Wing Civil Engineer Squadron. "We are able to share our skills and learn from each other.  This type of training and overall cultural experience is invaluable in our career field." 

The Airmen also worked on a project in Takoradi, in Ghana's western region to renovate a medical laboratory facility co-located with the Ghanaian Armed Forces' 2nd Battalion. The Airmen prepared the roof for installation, installed the underground sanitary hookup and completed masonry work in the window and door openings of the building. They also hooked up utilities, such as electric, water and sewer to the building there they stayed during the deployment.

"The Happy Hooligans have a reputation of working hard and getting the job done," said Gibbs. "We have definitely lived up to our reputation here and accomplished everything that we were tasked with, even in the heat. Now that we've been acclimated to working in temps over 100 degrees, we should be ready for summer in North Dakota now."

North Dakota has been partners with Ghana since 2004 as part of the State Partnership Program, which is sponsored by the Department of Defense. The program aligns states with partner countries to encourage the development of economic, political and military ties. 

During the past six years, more than 180 North Dakota Guardsmen, Ghana military members and civilians have taken part in State Partnership Program events and workshops. The current mission is providing valuable training on contingency skills for the Airmen while helping Ghanaians.