NDNG builds Wishek Airport new taxiway during training

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WISHEK, ND - The North Dakota National Guard often responds to pressing emergencies in the state. When one community called on guardsmen to help out in a different time of need, the guard responded as well.

Guard members want to build. Wishek needs to expand its airport, but is a little short on funds.

"I'm glad to have the guard do this. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have it," said Lorren Henke, Wishek Airport Board.

The Wishek and Edgeley Army National Guard units are each spending their fifteen-day long summer training building Wishek a new taxiway.

"The improvement of the knowledge of the guys, we're way ahead of schedule. They've learned a lot," said Sgt. Andy Wallner, project lead.

"It's really awesome. All of our soldiers just love this type of opportunity. It's not every day that they get to spend this much time on the equipment, with all the other things the Army wants us to do," said 1st Lt. Justin Johnson, platoon leader.

It took about 40 guard members two weeks to complete this portion of the taxiway. By the end of the project, 30 million dollars of equipment will be used to clear about 600,000 cubic feet of dirt to complete the three-quarter-of-a-mile long taxiway.

"They can come back a year from now, two years, and actually see, 'Yep, we did this. This is what we created.' Pretty self-fulfulling," said Staff Sgt. Neil Horner, Detachment Readiness Non-commissioned Officer.

"The leadership, the men that are working here, first class," said Henke.

The guardsmen get first-class experience, while the town just has to cover minor costs, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While in Wishek, the citizen-soldiers are also interacting with the community by playing in a card tournament, softball game, golf scramble and more.