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National Guard families say goodbye

At the deployment ceremony for the 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Saturday, July 27, important dignitaries lined the stage. Each spoke well-chosen words. Many of the audience members, though, seemed to be paying more attention to whom they were sitting beside, or who looked back at them from all points of the crowded gymnasium.

Governor Kristi Noem, Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds, Representative Dusty Johnson, Major General Jeffrey Marlette and Commander LTC David Moore were the guest speakers. In their own ways, each drew attention to the 69 individuals being pulled from 29 communities who are deployed to go into harm’s way.

“These are our citizen soldiers about to go off to war,” said Marlette, “You remember the day they left, the day they returned, and the impact that had on your life. The reality is you — family, friends, neighbors — serve right alongside of us.”

Johnson spoke of his sense of insignificance, compared to each of these 69 soldiers.

Rounds said South Dakota started with deployments in 2003, and now literally a generation later again sending more people off to war. “To the loved ones of these soldiers, I wish we could take away your hurt, but we can’t”

“We live in a broken world,” said Thune. “We have to have good people. We are here to send off these people, and to wish them well. May God bless you.”

“As me being your commander in chief, it is hard for me to even imagine what you are thinking right now,” said Noem. “You are going out to keep this country safe for my kids, for your kids. God speed, soldiers.”

“What do you say to their families,” admitted Moore. “They have volunteered to wear this uniform. I see here people I admire — the soldiers and the family and friends of the 152nd.”

When the speeches were done, the roll call dominated the ceremony.

As each soldier’s name and rank was called, each responded with a “Here, First Sergeant!” as they left their loved ones whom they had been sitting next to, and lined up at attention around the baselines surrounding the gym floor.

The closing prayer included, “Watch over our families, protect them while we are gone.”

The unit will first report to Fort Hood, Texas, to complete several weeks of theater-specific training prior to deployment overseas.

The unit is ordered to a nine-month deployment to the Middle East to provide multifunctional logistics and support operations. Of the 69 local Guardsmen, this is the second deployment for 22 of them and the third deployment for 10 of them.

Multifunctional logistics involves the movement, sustenance and maintenance of military forces. The 152nd is a headquarters element responsible for planning and synchronizing sustenance and integrating subordinate units into sustainment operations. It supports Army forces at the tactical and operational levels operating in its area that work to acquire, store, distribute materials and supplies such as: water, food, fuel, ammunition, medical supplies, equipment, repair parts, construction materials, as well as maintenance support.