Minot's 'Alpha Company' honored in emotional ceremony

MINOT, N.D. - A Minot-based national guard company that disabled hundreds of explosives during the war in Iraq received one of the nation's top honors Saturday.

The family of one member that didn't come home received the honor on his behalf.

It's an honor 13 years in the making.

The Alpha Company of the National Guard's 164th Battalion received the Valorous Unit Award for their efforts during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 122-member unit is credited with disabling more than 450 IEDs and patrolling roughly 84,000 miles from 2005 to 2006. They say the company's members share a special bond.

“What we did over there was hard to talk about, so it's a well-deserved honor that is very appreciated,” said Sgt. Guy Stevens.

“You can see the love that this unit has for each other, and that comes from what they went through in Iraq, serving in combat, and again doing such an amazing job of really saving lives,” said Sen. John Hoeven.

One member of the company didn't return home.

Fargo-native Michael Hermanson was killed in May of 2006 during a route-clearing mission. His parents were recognized for his sacrifice.

“His sacrifice is the ultimate sacrifice, and he was one of my soldiers, and it's hard to deal with every day, and as a parent, I appreciate them being able to come to this and being bestowed this honor also,” said Stevens.

“We'll all be together at some point as a unit again, and I really appreciated that Michael's parents have graciously made us part of their family,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Simek.

Honoring the efforts of these guardsmen overseas and remembering their sacrifices.

They also took time Saturday to honor other fallen members of the unit, including Joe Biel who lost his life to PTSD.