Soldiers of the Bismarck-based 68th Troop Command welcomed a new commander to the unit Sept. 17 during a change of command ceremony at the Raymond J. Bohn Armory.
Col. James Olson assumed duties as the 68th Troop Command commander from Col. Scott Fontaine, who has served in the position since 2015. Fontaine retired after more than 28 years of service with the North Dakota Army National Guard.
Olson enlisted in the North Dakota Guard in 1986. He was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at North Dakota State University and has served in several leadership roles as an engineer officer in the 142nd Engineer Battalion. His most recent assignments include deputy commander of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and commander of the 136th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
Olson has deployed for overseas missions three times. In 2000, he served in support of Operation Joint Guardian in Kosovo as a general construction platoon leader with the 142nd Engineer Battalion. He again served overseas with the unit in 2003 in Iraq as the battalion plans officer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Olson returned to Kosovo in 2009 for a peacekeeping mission there as the future operations officer for Multinational Task Force East.
Olson said his vision as 68th Troop Command commander is making sure the organization allows soldiers to get necessary training and be positioned within the National Guard to be successful.
Olson holds a bachelor of science in business administration degree from North Dakota State University, a master of business administration from the University of Mary and is a 2016 graduate of U.S. Army War College with a degree in strategic studies.
A native of Turtle Lake, Olson lives in Bismarck with his wife, Kathryn. They have two children, Kayla and Jack.
Col. Scott Fontaine was honored during a retirement ceremony Sept. 17 in front of family, friends and fellow Guard members at the Raymond J. Bohn Armory in Bismarck.
A native of Grand Forks, Fontaine served in the North Dakota Army National Guard for more than 28 years.
Fontaine began his military career in 1988 when he attended the Reserve Officer Training Corps Simultaneous Membership Program at the University of North Dakota. He commissioned as a second lieutenant in July 1990 and was sworn in with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment in February 1992. He has held a number of assignments within the ADA unit, including positions as battery commander, battalion logistics officer, air defense coordination officer, battalion operations officer, battalion executive officer and commander of the 1st Battalion, 188th ADA Regiment.
From November 2005 to February 2007, Fontaine deployed as the Joint Land Attack Elevated Netting Sensor commander in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He also held assignments as the deputy commander for the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, operations plans group chief for the N.D. National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters Domestic Operations section and, most recently, as 68th Troop Command commander.
During his retirement ceremony, Fontaine was awarded both a state and federal Legion of Merit, a presidential retirement letter, a U.S. and North Dakota flag, a retirement plaque and a book of retirement letters from North Dakota National Guard leadership. Other awards Fontaine previously received include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal.
Fontaine is employed with Altru Health Systems in Grand Forks as a board-certified registered nurse anesthetist. A graduate of Grand Forks Central High School, he also holds a bachelor of science in nursing and master of science in nurse anesthesia from the University of North Dakota.