It looked more like a combat operation as a huge backhoe, a tank retriever and three dozers made their way through Souris River water in Minot late Saturday afternoon.

With Russ Gohl, a local excavator in the lead in the backhoe, followed by a North Dakota National Guard tank retriever and dozers, they were on their way from the north end of Minot’s Main Street downtown and across the now wide expanse of the river to the Victory Pedestrian Bridge near Home Sweet Home.

The bridge being overrun by the flooding water was collecting debris and the fear was it would damage the dikes and cause flooding into even more areas.

The plan was to hook up cables to the bridge on the south side of the river and leave the heavy equipment in place to better anchor it. How successful the attempt was was not immediately clear. The site will be monitored, said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general.

The preparations took much of the day but by late in the afternoon the backhoe, tank retriever and dozers moved into the water, crossing the railroad tracks and then in front of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe facility and around its east side and then to the north to get to the bridge.

When all the work was done, the operators were picked up from the equipment in the water by airboat operators.

Capt. Tom Leingang, a heavy combat engineer with the 816th in charge of the National Guard’s heavy equipment being used, said, “We have plenty of equipment and manpower to do it.”

He said Gohl, though, was in charge of the operation and they were there to help.


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