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Published February 13, 2011, 06:43 PM

ND National Guard Members Honored

A Grand Forks couple deployed overseas is overwhelmed. They are among 75 soldiers of the 188th being honored for their sacrifice and service during the war on terror.

A Grand Forks couple deployed overseas is overwhelmed.

They are among 75 soldiers of the 188th being honored for their sacrifice and service during the war on terror.

Jacqueline and Fransisco Raatz are a couple on the same mission not only in life, but on the job.

"We started dating in January of 2009, were married September of that year and then we deployed a few months later," Jacqueline said.

The pair is part of the 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. '

They say being together made things much easier.

"It was great to have her with and my first deployment I wasn't married to her and it was a lot different," Francisco said.

This couple was among the many men and women being honored at the Alerus Center during the Freedom Salute Ceremony Sunday in Grand Forks. It celebrated soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan the past year.

"It's a little overwhelming to be honest, but it's great," Jacqueline said.

Sunday was a chance for not only guard members to be recognized but their family members as well.

"We do the freedom salute to recognize the outstanding performance of all our soldiers, to thank the families for their sacrifice, to congratulate them on a successful mission and very safe mission," Guard Commander Dave Spynczynatyk said.

State leaders recognize the soldiers to make sure they know just how much they have done for our freedom and for our country.

"I'm not really about recognition but it's really nice to have it," Francisco said.

"It makes me proud today to be a soldier in the National Guard. It's a great unit and I'm proud of it," Jacqueline said.

Soldiers were deployed from November 2009 to December 2010.

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