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  • January 28, 2022 12:39 | Anonymous

    2x UH-72A Lakotas flight training in Helena, MT, May 2021

    Name, Branch, Rank

    My name is Caleb Hamilton, I am a Captain in the North Dakota Army National Guard and my branch is Aviation.


    My hometown is Sheridan, Wyoming

    Tell us about your job...

    I am a full time LUH72A Lakota Aviation Officer with North Dakota Army National Guard in Fargo, ND providing aviation coordination and support to Law Enforcement operations across North Central United States.

    How many years of service?

    I have just over 6 years of service. I joined the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2015 after graduating from NDSU. I have 2 years of service as an Enlisted Soldier with the Engineers as a 12W Carpenter; 4 years of Aviation service as a Commissioned Officer.

    What inspired you to join the Military?

    Family tradition of Military service was my initial inspiration for joining the Military and I wanted to be an Aviation Officer in either the Air Force or Army. Most of my family members who have served were enlisted and I wanted to be the first person to be an Officer. When I was younger, I always loved helping my Dad with his Army uniform and going with him to the Armory to see all of the cool Army equipment. So I decided to pursue the Military when I was in college and enlisted after graduating college.

    What is the most rewarding part of your job/time in the military?

    The most rewarding part of my job is working with helicopters on a weekly basis and flying missions in support of law enforcement and responding to state emergencies.

    Are you involved in the North Dakota aviation community outside of the military?

    Yes, I am involved in ND Aviation community outside of the Military. I recently joined the Fargo Jet Center flying club and am working on my airplane private pilot license with a goal to build further flight experience outside of the Military.

    What advice do you have for anyone interested in military aviation?

    Military Aviation is very rewarding and exciting! However, it requires more of a time commitment than other jobs in the Military due to maintaining flight proficiency on an almost weekly basis. Recruiters are the gate keepers to all Military jobs; they have resources and the availability to provide information to individuals interested in ND Aviation. The North Dakota National Guard website is also a fantastic resource for someone to begin their research.

    Hamilton next to a UH-72A Lakota, Fargo, ND. December 2021

    Hamilton by to a UH-60M Blackhawk, Ft. Rucker, AL. October 2018


  • January 28, 2022 12:33 | Anonymous

    Thousands of flights were canceled during the holiday rush in December. Though COVID was said to be the blame for many of the cancellations, the  root of the problem goes deeper. Where are all of the pilots? Having been predicted for many years, the pilot shortage is here, and has been amplified during the pandemic. 

    We have been working to increase interest in aviation careers for a number of years. Efforts have included developing our high school aviation programs (currently in six cities in North Dakota as well as distance education available to all schools), the aviation career expo and the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) Scholarship program to name just some of our efforts. Recently the NDAA and the University of North Dakota – Aerospace partnered on a grant proposal for an FAA Workforce Development Grant. This proposal was awarded in the amount of nearly $500,000 which will be used to create professional development opportunities for teachers in our region.

    Using grant funds, teachers will have the opportunity to attend professional development free of charge to learn more about opportunities for their students in aviation and aerospace. One of the professional development experiences will transport teachers, counselors and administrators  to a variety of locations throughout eastern North Dakota and Minnesota highlighting careers in the aviation industry. In addition to learning about the opportunities for their students, teachers will be introduced to lessons, and curriculum available to bring into their classrooms. Our goal is to find more ways to bring aviation education into classrooms around our state. These may be in the form of aviation courses at the high school level, or integrated lessons at the primary level. 

    In addition to a tour of all things aviation, another opportunity for teachers being developed is professional development focused on unmanned aircraft. Funding will be available for equipment for classrooms as well as training and testing costs for teachers to receive their remote pilot certificate. We hope to see schools bringing drone racing or other UAS competitions into their offering of extra curriculars. 

    We know that the industry has a need for pilots, mechanics, UAS operators, and many other areas of the industry. I know that we will be talking about this for years to come. My hope is that through partnerships like this bringing together the NDAA and UND Aerospace with FAA funding will bring students closer to the amazing opportunities available in our industry. 

    Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator 

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • January 28, 2022 12:21 | Anonymous

    This past fall, the North Dakota Legislative Assembly was called into special session and a part of their task was to determine how the state should utilize the Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that have been received. Approximately $1 billion in Federal Aid was appropriated and the final breakdown of these funds for use in North Dakota included: 56% for Infrastructure and Capital Projects, 37% for Workforce and Economic Development, and 7% for Health Care, Emergency Response, & Citizen Service Efficiency.

    Prior to the start of the special legislative session, the Airport Association of North Dakota and the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) was able to proactively meet with state legislators and participate in the ARPA committee hearings to make the case that a portion of the funds should be considered for airport infrastructure funding. These efforts were met with success, as the final bill appropriated $5 million of the ARPA funds to the NDAC for the purpose of providing additional airport infrastructure grants in the coming years. These funds will be put to good use to help reduce the local financial burden on project costs, match federal grant dollars, and overall help multiple North Dakota communities move forward with high-priority airport projects.

    At the national level, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was also signed into law, which will provide an additional $3 billion per year, over the next five years, for eligible Airport Infrastructure Projects throughout the country. This will create new opportunities for additional federal funds to be leveraged to North Dakota projects. The NDAC is looking forward to working with the FAA and our 89 public-use airports to ensure that proactive and justified plans are in place to appropriately compete for these funds.This spring, our agency will also be providing the industry with a finalized Pavement Condition Index Study. This is a project that we conduct every three years, where the pavement sections at the public-use airports are analyzed, inventoried, and provided with a recommended maintenance or replacement plan. This information helps us to prioritize and plan the most cost-effective and appropriate timing of airport pavement maintenance and rehabilitation projects throughout the state. The newly announced federal and state funding programs will make this information even more valuable for our planning efforts, as our goal is to be prudent and make informed decisions when allocating grant funds. 

    As we continue our work to improve and ensure the safety of North Dakota’s airport infrastructure and airspace, feel free to contact the NDAC with any concerns, recommendations, or information that you may have to help provide us with a full understanding of the needs of the system. Smart investment decisions within our airports and communities will help to encourage growth opportunities and economic diversification while also helping North Dakota to strengthen its role within the energy and agricultural industries.

    Wishing you blue skies and tailwinds, 

    Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • January 28, 2022 12:15 | Anonymous

    By Ryan Riesinger, President, Airport Association of North Dakota and  Executive Director, Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority

    2021 was a busy one for the Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND). We kicked off the year with the North Dakota State Legislative Session, participated in the successful Fly-ND Conference virtually and the first annual Fly-ND Summerfest in Washburn, ND, and closed out the year with a win in the Special Session. I would like to highlight a few of these accomplishments.

    The AAND strategy going into the 2021 Legislative Session was to take a team approach and split up the responsibilities of tracking and testifying by bill. This worked well and resulted in the following for our state’s airports:

    Bills that PASSED

    Legacy Fund Infrastructure Loan Program and Bank of North Dakota Revolving Loan Fund: this bill will give airport authorities two additional financing tools for larger capital projects.

    Transportation Network Companies (TNCs): in this bill, airports will now be allowed to enter into agreements with TNCs at their airports.

    Airline Taxation Issue: this bill closed a loophole in the North Dakota Century Code, so that an airline must now pay a central assessed tax if they make a regularly scheduled landing.

    State Interoperability Radio Network: this bill allows airports to receive a discount for radios purchased on the new state radio system.

    Aeronautics Bill: we successfully supported the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission bill.

    Bill that was successfully DEFEATED

    Eminent Domain: this bill was defeated, which would have imposed numerous penalties on airports that use eminent domain to acquire land and would have restricted zoning changes.

    These were all significant accomplishments during the Session and I would like to thank all of the individuals who assisted in these efforts. A special thanks goes to Odney, our legislative consultant team.

    In March, the 2021 Fly-ND Conference was held virtually for the first time. It ran very smoothly and was a good opportunity to have speakers participate from other parts of the country. In August, we were able to get together in person at the first annual Fly-ND Summerfest in Washburn, ND. It included a golf tournament, with proceeds going to support youth aviation scholarships, and a wonderful dinner and presentation to honor 2021 North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame inductee, Bill Beeks. Feedback on the event was very positive and there are plans to keep it going annually and move around the state.

    With fall came the North Dakota Legislative Special Session to determine how to distribute up to $1 billion of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. This was a unique process, with Senate and House Appropriations Committees holding hearings and receiving testimony on nearly 200 proposals totaling $10 billion in requests. A coordinated effort with the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and strong assistance from Odney resulted in securing $5 million in funding for state airport grants.

    Yes, 2021 was busy! However, it  was not without its challenges. Mask mandates, potential vaccine mandates, workforce shortages, and air service concerns are on-going topics as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. But North Dakota airports are strong and brighter days are ahead.

    We look forward to seeing everyone in person at the 2022 Fly-ND Conference in Fargo, ND, at the Delta Hotel from March 6-8. Please note that when you register online for the conference, you will have an opportunity to sponsor the Jim Lawler Scholarship Endowment Fund. This is an awesome way to honor Jim and will establish a perpetual endowment in his memory. Those who sponsor will be recognized at the conference.

    Here’s to an incredible 2022! Keep ‘em flying.

    Ryan Riesinger, President, Airport Association of North Dakota and  Executive Director, Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority

  • January 28, 2022 12:05 | Anonymous

    Back in 2017, when I started flying in earnest again, it started with looking for an airplane. As I started my search for the right airplane, everyone that I solicited advice from all asked me the same question, “what’s your mission?”. I didn’t have a mission necessarily in mind, I just wanted to fly an airplane and have fun. I didn’t know that we needed a mission to buy and fly an airplane. Now that I’ve owned the plane for almost five years, I do understand the necessity of defining your mission to find the right airplane. We as pilots also tend to feel the need to have a mission for each flight. These often include getting to a meeting, going on vacation or away for the weekend, or some other purpose.

    I think we have to remember that one of our missions should be to have fun. To go for joy rides and remember that’s what most likely started most of our passions in aviation. As I think back on flights that I’ve done that have been for the sole mission of enjoyment, many fun memories come back. 

    Shortly after a big snow storm blew across North Dakota diagonally, my dad and I decided to go check out the remnants from above. We rented a 172 and flew up towards Lake Sakakawea. Once we got just past Beulah, we saw the definitive line of where the blizzard had stopped. I remember to this day how cool it was seeing the path of a blizzard from above, a white covered ground to one side, and brown prairie on the other. After we toured over the Lake a bit, we made a stop in Hazen and I showed my dad what small town FBO’s look like. As we jumped back in the plane for the rest of the flight, my dad grabbed out the catering for our journey, a package of strawberries he brought with for us to enjoy. A sweet ending to a great flight. 

    While in college at UND, my friends and I all returned home for a weekend. We decided to take a Saturday trip to Dickinson in the 172. Fun was our mission, but an added mission was to get Arctic Rolls from the Dairy Barn. My girlfriend also brought with one of her friends that had never been in a small plane before. A great way to introduce someone new to the world of general aviation. After a brief tour of the Enchanted Highway from above, we steered towards Dickinson and enjoyed  a few Arctic Rolls.

    Lastly, this past fall, my family and I jumped in our plane one Sunday afternoon and went out to do some sightseeing. I text my dad that we’d be coming up over the lake cabin soon to say “hi”. As we made a few circles over the cabin, my dad waved to us from the middle of the yard, while we rocked our wings back. Pete Weisbeck was enjoying the afternoon at the cabin with my dad and their friends, and text me the next day how good the flyover looked. Sadly, this was Pete’s last time at the cabin as he passed away a short few weeks later. After a few passes over the lake to check out the Salmon fishing report (lots of boats, and apparently some good fishing as well) I decided to check out the progress at the Hazen airport and the new runway with a flyover. 

    These are memories that will remain with me forever, and were born out of a desire to just have some fun. 

    Justin Weninger, Chairman

    North Dakota Aviation Associaton

  • January 28, 2022 12:00 | Anonymous

    The North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame committee announces that Leo Duane Jostad has been selected for induction into the state’s Aviation Hall of Fame.  Leo will join the prestigious aviation hall of fame group that currently includes 46 other individuals who have all had a significant impact to the growth, development, and promotion of aviation in North Dakota.

    Leo D. Jostad was born 2 March 1939, in Bottineau, ND. His first flight at age five was sitting on his dad’s lap in a Piper J3 Cub flown by flight instructor Bruce Wright. Leo’s dad earned a private license in an OX-5 powered Curtis Monoplane, and the “seed” had been sown in father and son. Leo found creative employment opportunities to finance flying lessons while finishing his college degree at NDSU. He still remembers the thrill of his first solo flight.

    After completing his bachelor’s degree, he taught music in South Fargo for one year before being commissioned in the United States Air Force. Between 1966 and 1969, while stationed at Minot AFB, Leo earned his Commercial and CFI Certificates then was hired by Pietsch Flying Service. Service to his country took him out of North Dakota, where he was stationed at Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Japan, flying combat sorties in Vietnam and the Tonkin Gulf areas. During this time, he assumed operational responsibilities in the Kadena AeroClub. He was an active GA enthusiast and flight instructor, the club maintenance operator for a fleet of 15 aircraft, and test pilot for maintenance-released aircraft. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross twice and the Air Medal 15 times for performance under extremely hazardous conditions during combat operations.

    Once stateside, he was involved in Offutt AFB Aero Club where he continued teaching military pilots, young and old, as well as non-pilots, about the beauty, freedoms, and adventures of civil aviation. After 24 years of service, Leo retired from the USAF as Lt. Colonel. He continued providing flight instruction over the next several years in Omaha at Offutt Aero Club.

    In 1988, the family moved back to North Dakota. Over the following years, Leo was approached to act as Chief Pilot and Director of Flight Operations for Farstad Oil Co and later with Food Management Investors. Between his corporate flying positions, he acted as Chief CFI at Northern Plains Aviation in Minot, ND. The part 141 flight school was a labor of love and a source of pride.

    Leo has taught and mentored several international students, local students, his daughters, and two granddaughters. He has been a principal member of his community, participating with the church, music, veterans, and the famed Club de Skinatique, of which he is a founding member. He is acting president of the Bottineau Municipal Airport Authority, spearheading many improvement projects for local general aviation. In addition to providing medical flights to those in need, Leo regularly donates plane rides for the Evergreen Scholarship fundraiser earning the Friend of Education Award from Dakota College at Bottineau. Leo Jostad is the embodiment of characteristics displayed in past Hall of Fame recipients.

    For more information on the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame, visit

    Join us for the Hall of Fame Award Presentation

    The induction ceremony will take place in Fargo at the annual Fly-ND Conference on Tuesday, March 8th at the Fargo Air Museum. The social will begin at 6 p.m. and the banquet begins at 7 p.m. To learn more about the state’s aviation conference or to purchase tickets for the awards ceremony, visit Questions can be directed to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission at 701-328-9650. 

  • January 28, 2022 11:53 | Anonymous

    By The Staiger Consulting Group

    As I write this, we have just kicked off 2022, not with a bang, but easing in gently. Maybe sneaking into the year quietly, without much fuss or noise, as we certainly don’t want to walk too confidently or boldly and disturb it too much! I’m here for 2022, whatever it looks like and whatever comes our way. Seems like the only way to go…right? 

    Speaking of going up, let’s do that. Let’s continue to elevate this association and celebrate all that we have accomplished. This strong organization eased into so many changes and new endeavors with caution but with optimism and enthusiasm. I challenge all of you to think about the progress we’ve made.  Although, there has been a learning curve and an occasional glitch, overall, the advancement has been quite impressive. We have an active and engaged board of directors that is nimble and progressive. 

    These leaders established a highly successful scholarship program, a dynamic and robust online and social media presence, a stunning quarterly publication, and a structure of membership categories to reach all sectors of the industry. Now we have three annual events including the Career Expo, Summerfest and, of course, the Fly-ND Conference. The individuals who serve on the board and the exceptional committee volunteers have done a stellar job moving this organization in an exciting direction and the trajectory of our future remains strong. 

    We’re all excited to get back to meeting in person at the 2022 Fly-ND Conference. This year we’ll be meeting March 6-8, 2022, at the Delta Hotel in Fargo. So, mark your calendars now. The site committee is putting together a fantastic program with a variety of wonderful speakers and sessions!  In addition, there will be networking and social opportunities as well as an Exhibit Hall with all the latest and greatest products and services from vendors and suppliers across the industry. In addition, we look forward to honoring award winners and the most recent inductee into North Dakota’s Aviation Hall of Fame. 

    Look for more information on the conference in this publication as well as on our website. I encourage you to check it out and make plans to attend. We have special rates for members so be sure to join and renew your membership as well! Your support and participation really do make a difference and we appreciate you. I look forward to seeing long-time friends and meeting new faces at this year’s event and please take a moment introduce yourself to our team. 

    I wish all of you a very Happy New Year with cautious and hope-filled optimism for 2022 and for all the great things happening in this organization.

    Thank you for the continued opportunity to serve to you!

    Stacy & Mike Krumwiede

  • January 04, 2022 11:22 | Anonymous

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced $2.8 million in drone research, education and training grants to five universities. Research will focus on three areas: Advanced material, right-of-way rules, and flight data recorder requirements. 

    The universities receiving grants are Mississippi State University, Wichita State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of Kansas and the University of North Dakota.  

    “This funding and our ongoing partnerships with these universities will allow the FAA to safely integrate the airspace that has a growing number of diverse aircraft users,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. 

    The grant awardees are summarized as follows:

    Conduct Advanced Materials Investigation - Composite Material Analysis for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)

    This research aims to identify, assess, and understand the types of composites and other advanced materials used in drones and Advanced Air Mobility. These activities will be critical for developing standards and regulations to use these advanced materials in aircraft.

    Mississippi State University: $157,000 

    Wichita State University:  $161,958 

    Propose Right-of-Way Rules for UAS Operations and Safety Recommendations

    Right-of-way rules keep aircraft safely separated. This research will explore right-of-way rules for a wide variety of drone operations. It will provide safety-based recommendations for the FAA and drone industry standards organizations to consider in establishing drone detect-and-avoid requirements. 

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: $330,000 

    University of Kansas: $494,525 

    University of North Dakota: $569,242 

    Identify Flight Recorder Requirements for UAS Integration into the NAS

    Flight recorders can provide valuable data when drone incidents occur. This research will explore flight-recorder requirements for drones, including remotely piloted advance air mobility aircraft. The universities will share the findings with the European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment.  

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: $298,145 

    Wichita State University: $400,000 

    University of North Dakota: $390,945  

    Today’s announcement is the third round of Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) grants, which brings the total of 57 grants valued at $19.1 million for Fiscal Year 2021. The ASSURE Center of Excellence is one of six that the agency has established to help advance technology and educate the next generation of aviation professionals. Research conducted through ASSURE is focused on helping the drone market safely grow and integrate into the nation’s airspace.    

    More than 800,000 recreational and commercial drones are in the active drone fleet, and that number is expected to grow.  

  • January 04, 2022 11:13 | Anonymous

    After a shutdown during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, UND Aerospace and its airport operations resumed in earnest that summer. Over the next year, UND’s flight training programs went on to accrue more flight hours than ever – smashing a 2013 record. UND archival image.

    With 126,000 hours of flight across all training programs, UND sets new record in year of changes and challenges

    From July 1 of last year to June 30, the University of North Dakota’s flight training programs kept an unprecedented pace, smashing a 2013 record for hours flown by students at the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

    The 126,000 hours flown between 2020 and 2021 went well beyond the FY13’s 110,000 hours across plane, helicopter and unmanned aerial systems flight training. Airplane training alone comprised 121,000 hours of the FY21 total.

    The milestone was reached amid circumstances never before experienced. After the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered UND Flight Operations from March through May in 2020, training resumed in earnest as students were determined to keep their college careers on track.

    “This flying hour milestone is a culmination of the hard work of all of our students, instructors, maintainers, line staff, and others,” said Robert Kraus, dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. “Even more so, they have done it professionally and safely, even under pandemic restrictions.”

    From shutdown to blazing pace

    Despite new safety protocols and sometimes daily changes to operations, UND achieved a number that hadn’t previously been thought to be possible, according to Chief Flight Instructor Jeremy Roesler. Previous estimates, considering the size of UND’s fleet of nearly 100 aircraft and an average of 160 flight instructors on staff, put the cap at 120,000 hours for UND at its busiest.

    “As we shut down from the middle of March until May 2020, all of that cumulative flight training still had to happen,” Roesler said. “And because of the airline industry slowdown, our flight instructors weren’t leaving for new employment. We then hired more instructors, which meant we were far more staffed than years previous.”

    By the time UND Flight Operations resumed activities at the airport, under new health and safety precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, 245 flight instructors were on staff to help as many as 1,400 students get up to speed on flight lessons.

    Also, as noted by Kraus, “The great weather we’ve had over the winter and spring contributed to Grand Forks International Airport achieving the top rank as the busiest airport in the country on several occasions.”

    But it wasn’t solely a staffing boost or sunny days that set a blazing pace for UND Aerospace.

    “It’s hard to single out any one department, because our organization is so intertwined,” said Dick Schultz, director of UND Flight Operations, when asked about the milestone. “From our records department, to dispatch, to the maintenance bay, if one thing is out of place, it messes up the whole system.

    “Our collective experience, working seven days a week, morning to night, has taught us what we need to do to get the job done. We have a great staff out here, and everybody stood up to do their part.”

    Brian Willis, director of aviation safety, said that from a safety culture standpoint, everyone in the UND Aerospace ecosystem was prepared for what came with resuming flight training last summer. Masks were required across the board and cockpits were sanitized between uses, among other measures to promote physical distancing when possible.

    “As pilots, our students and instructors have learned to be very flexible,” Willis said. “They’re also very rule-oriented as a matter of course. So, between the checklists, manuals and flight procedures, COVID procedures fit right in. That allowed for the organization to come back and really get rolling.

    “From our administration’s offices to students and instructors on the runway, safety is always the priority in how we make decisions.”

    On the rebound

    While conditions aligned perfectly for an unprecedentedly productive year at UND, the rest of the aviation world is now on the rebound, said Roesler. As pandemic recovery unfolds, airlines and other aviation fixtures are steadily reaching pre-COVID hiring rates.

    “We’ve already had quite a number of instructors move on this year, and our graduates are going to remain in high demand as the industry addresses its pilot shortage,” Roesler said.

    Kraus said that in recent meetings with airlines, many of which have established career pathway programs in partnership with UND Aerospace, nearly all are expecting significant hiring opportunities for “several years.”

    “We continue to see rising interest in aviation as a career, and our increase in flight hours supports the increasing demand of pilots from all levels of the industry,” he added.

    In order to get flight training back on schedule, UND Aerospace implemented new procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19, including mask requirements and increased sanitization for cockpits and other training areas. UND archival image.

  • January 04, 2022 11:07 | Anonymous

    By Erika Craven, KFYR

    Michelle Mulberry’s brigadier general promotion is more than a one-star ceremony, it’s the culmination of many years of military service. The story begins with patriarch Richard Balliet’s time in Vietnam.

    “When I first got there, I figured I had so long to serve that I didn’t think I would get out of there anyway. But as the time went on and things got better the closer that I got to the end of my tour, the end of that year, I started to slow down a bit, get a little bit worried, that I might make it out of there anyway,” said Full Col. Richard Balliet, North Dakota Army National Guard.

    Balliet also served with Co A, 101st Aviation Battalion as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and served over 36 years. He wrote a book about his experiences.

    Balliet’s daughters learned more about their father’s story as they forged their own paths in the military.

    “That’s where my dad was, and he worked full time, and both sisters had gone that route. And, I kind of figured if I didn’t like it, I only had to do it one weekend a month and two weeks a year. And, I wasn’t stuck on active duty for four years,” said Sgt. First Class Laura Balliet with the North Dakota Army National Guard and assistant attorney general.

    Now, the Balliet family celebrates middle daughter Michelle’s promotion to brigadier general for the Wyoming Air National Guard. She’s the second in her family to achieve the one-star honor after Nicole, who received the title in the Army National Guard while in California.

    “[At the promotion ceremony] we usually have at least those four positions, and we made it happen with just our family which is really unusual,” said Brig. Gen. Michelle Mulberry for the Wyoming Air National Guard.

    These military women not only achieved high honors but also keep a strong sense of humor.

    “You know, we always give our dad a lot of crap, because now he has two daughters that outrank him, so we celebrate that and high-five when he tries to tell us something,” added BG Mulberry.

    Youngest daughter Laura isn’t left out of the joke.

    “For 11 years, I have been assistant attorney general for the State of North Dakota, so I had the title general first,” added SFC Laura Balliet.

    The family has been around the world and back with nine deployments between father and daughters. And while they’re scattered across the country now, the military’s brought them together again and again.

    “I was in Iraq when my sister was deployed to Qatar, and I got to see her on the ramp of a C-130 aircraft. She flew into Iraq to pick up the wounded I got to see her for about 20 minutes,” said Brig. Gen. Nicole Balliet, National Guard Bureau.

    BG Mulberry added that the meet-up was a surprise.

    The family has served the United States in many capacities from flying helicopters in Vietnam, to working earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti, to extensive work in the Middle East.

    “Now the girls, they all did this on their own. I didn’t encourage them to join, that was all their own decisions. We actually never really talked about it much until they came to me and said this is what they want to do. I am very proud of them for that,” added Col. Richard Balliet.

    They say the military has brought the family together.

    “I think being in the military and getting older, of course, has brought us closer as sisters. It’s nice to have shared experiences. We all know what it’s like to deploy. We know what it’s like to miss family,” added BC Nicole Balliet.

    The Balliets say they’ve been lucky to have support from friends and family, including the girls’ mother Betty Jo, throughout their military careers.

    Including Michelle Mulberry and Nicole Balliet, there are five female general officers who hail from North Dakota. The others from North Dakota include Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber with the North Dakota Army National Guard, Brig. Gen. Stefanie Horvath with the Minnesota Army National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Giselle Wilz with the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC.

    Reprinted with permission from KFYR TV

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