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Military Training Helps Community

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Soldiers from the 816th Engineer Company are leveling off a hill to make useable terrain. It's the kind of work they do on deployments, but this project is creating extra space at a cemetery.

"Anything that falls into the missions essential task list, we can actually do as an IRT (Innovative Readiness Program) mission. And this is a perfect example of things we can do. You know, our engineering companies have all the equipment necessary to move dirt, to build roads, to build bridges. So anything that the military is capable of doing that fits into our wartime mission, we're able to do on an IRT with the IRT program," says First Sgt. Steve Kilde.

The unit from Dickinson is leveling off six acres of land at Bismarck's Fairview cemetery.

"We estimated 11 days for this project and that's allowing that we are training our younger soldiers with our older soldiers, and we're also training them each on multiple pieces of equipment. It's not, you're assigned a scraper and that's what you stay on. You get to run every piece of equipment out on our site if you're in our unit," says First Lt. Lorna Meidinder.

The soldiers have to take time off from their civilian jobs, and it can be a hardship for employers. That's why the guard does something called a boss lift.

"They take them to the different companies of the National Guard, so they can really see what their soldiers are really doing when they're not at work, because they do work with us when we need these two weeks off every year," says Meidinder.

"Got picked up in Dickinson, then we flew up to Fort Grafton and toured that facility up there, and it's quite an amazing facility up there," says employer Rob Heim, Bob's Oilfield Services.

Employers say they prefer to hire soldiers because of the experience and training they get through the guard.

"It saves us money and time effort and it's easier in equipment, an experienced operator will help out your equipment, take care of it," says employer Heim.

When the project is finished the cemetery will have three new sections.

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