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Outstanding Airmen of the Year Also Recognized

FARGO, N.D. — The North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing, known as the Happy Hooligans, formally accepted the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) for the 23rd time during a ceremony at Hector Air Base, Fargo, N.D., on March 5. The ceremony also included recognition of the Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

The AFOUA is awarded by the secretary of the U.S. Air Force to numbered units of the active duty Air Force, U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard that have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement, including successful involvement with combat operations or exposure to hostile actions by an opposing foreign force.

“Congratulations to the members of the North Dakota Air National Guard’s 119th Wing as they celebrate an incredible 23rd Air Force Outstanding Unit Award,” said Gov. Doug Burgum, commander-in-chief of the North Dakota National Guard. “Whether serving in support of U.S. commanders overseas or here at home, we can always count on the Happy Hooligans to excel in their assigned missions and instill pride among North Dakotans.”

Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general, placed the streamer representing the award on the 119th Wing’s colors, and commended the Hooligan Airmen for their exceptional service and mission accomplishment.

“It’s a privilege to be with the Happy Hooligans as you celebrate this latest recognition by the U.S. Air Force,” said Dohrmann. “Since the North Dakota Air National Guard was established in 1947, you’ve continued to excel while accepting the challenges of changes in aircraft and missions. Last year the 119th Wing safely deployed 120 Airmen in support of overseas missions, all while continuing to successfully support other federal and state missions here at home”.  

The award was accepted on behalf of the 119th Wing by its commander, Col. Mitch Johnson.

“We are extremely proud of these Airmen we honor today and their dedication to excellence,” said Johnson. “The Hooligans excelled by working as one to earn another Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and presenting these Outstanding Airmen of the Year awards allow us to recognize those exceptional individuals who make up this phenomenal team.”

The recent award period was for achievements rendered from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2020, in which the 119th Wing successfully executed combat and expeditionary support operations to multiple commands by activating over 165 Airmen to locations around the globe. Notable accomplishments include over 10,000 combat hours flown resulting in successful degradation of enemy networks; the 119th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group continuing to lead the Air National Guard through its 456% increase in target production output; and the 219th Security Forces Squadron facilitating a 98.7% sortie alert rate while safeguarding $3.3 billion in U.S. Strategic Command nuclear assets.

The Hooligans previously earned the award in 1971, 1973, 1979, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

In addition to the AFOUA award, the North Dakota Air National Guard’s Outstanding Airmen of the Year were also recognized during the ceremony.

  • Field Grade Officer of the Year: Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hovdenes
  • Company Grade Officer of the Year: Capt. Jesse Moch
  • Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Danelle Card
  • Non-commissioned Officer of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Abigail Swanson
  • Airman of the Year: Senior Airman Ethan Cermak

Also honored were the Unit Career Advisor of the Year, Staff Sgt. Daniel Solberg, 119th Civil Engineer Squadron; and First Sergeant of the Year, Master Sgt. Ryan Nelson, 119th Operations Group.


The North Dakota National Guard is a trained and highly motivated force of about 4,000 Citizen- Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen. We are always prepared to provide ready units, individuals and equipment in support of our communities, state and nation. Always ready, always there.


High-resolution photos available at Flickr album: 2021 119 Wing OAY and AFOUA

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