Support to federal commitments worldwide continued in 2018 as more than 590 South Dakota National Guard soldiers and airmen from seven South Dakota units supported overseas contingency operations.
Since 9/11, the SDNG has deployed more than 8,600 soldiers and airmen in support of various operations. This is according to Lt. Col. Anthony Deiss, director of public affairs for the South Dakota National Guard.
15 soldiers from the 200th Engineer Company served in Syria where they emplaced and repaired bridges throughout the region to ensure freedom of movement for United States military and coalition forces.
Three soldiers from the 216th Engineer Detachment (Firefighting Team) served in Romania and Bulgaria, providing fire protection of aviation assets, facilities and installations in the European Command area of operation.
25 soldiers from Detachment 1, Company B, 935th Aviation Support Battalion deployed for duty in Iraq and Kuwait where they provided aviation maintenance and repair support for U.S. Army rotary aircraft and avionics systems
The 114th Fighter Wing saw the deployment and return of 335 Airmen and F-16 fighter aircraft to Southwest Asia as part of an Air Expeditionary Force rotation, which provided combatant commanders with the capabilities needed to maintain a deterrent against threats to regional security and stability
93 soldiers from Company C, 1-189th Aviation Regiment served in the Middle East where they provided aerial medical evacuation support throughout the region with HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters
114 soldiers from Bravo Battery, 1-147th Field Artillery and the 147th Forward Support
Company deployed to Poland in support of allied nation partnerships and regional security and stability goals
Domestic operation support to the citizens of South Dakota and state civil authorities continued in 2018 with several state active duty mission assignments involving two dozen personnel totaling nearly 40 man-days.s
Seven soldiers with Detachment 2, 174th Cyber Protection Team, deployed stateside to the U.S Capital region to assist local, state and federal agencies in protecting the nation’s cyber infrastructure and addressing emerging cyber threats.
The SDANG continued support to NORAD’s Airspace Control Alert mission at March Air Force Base in California; providing four F-16 Fighting Falcons and pilots who are ready at a moment’s notice to protect the country for any type of emergency, from security patrols to acts of terrorism.
The Army Guard responded to two fires in the Black Hills in August (Vineyard and Wall Canyon Fires) providing aerial water suppression assistance using HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crews and ground support personnel.
So far in 2019, the SDARNG was called to state active duty to provide drinking water to more
than 8,000 residents in seven communities on the Pine Ridge Reservation during late March after spring flooding, which damaged a main waterline in Oglala Lakota County. Thirteen soldiers with five load handling system vehicles equipped with water tanks distributed more than 10,000 gallons of water in four days.
In January, the SDARNG deployed a UH-72 Lakota helicopter and three soldiers for 90 days to
provide aerial detection and monitoring for U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the Southwest border, which added additional air reconnaissance capability and capacity to enhance CBP’s border security operations.
The South Dakota National Guard had an outstanding 2018 training year and received dozens of national awards, demonstrating their operational readiness. Combined, Army and Air Guard units, as well as individual soldiers and airmen, received nearly 50 national awards for meeting or exceeding highly-enforced military standards in the areas of personnel, training, readiness, property accountability, resource management, safety and meritorious service.
Some of these awards include:
• 30 Army Guard units received the National Guard Bureau’s Superior Unit Award in recognition of outstanding achievement in operational readiness. The SDARNG makes up only nine-tenths of one percent of the nation’s National Guard, but earned 97 percent of the SUA’s awarded for the year.
• For the fourth year in a row, the SD Air National Guard’s 114th Fighter Wing was the recipient of a Distinguished Flying Unit Plaque, which recognizes the five most outstanding Air National Guard flying units in the nation. This is the eighth time the 114th has received the honor.
• The 114th Fighter Wing was also announced as the recipient of the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for a fourth consecutive year. This is the 10th time the unit has received this award for exceptional meritorious service by the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard.
• For the second year in a row, the SD Army National Guard won the National Guard Bureau Excellence in Diversity Award in the unit/organization category for significant contributions to diversity and inclusion initiatives.
• The SD Army National Guard’s Specialist Bailey Ruff was named the national 2018 Soldier of the Year for the Army National Guard during its Best Warrior Competition. Ruff is the first Soldier from South Dakota to win Soldier of the Year honors at the Army National Guard level.
• The 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion received the Maj. Gen. Milton A. Reckord Trophy and the Gen. Walter T. Kerwin, Jr. Award as the most outstanding Army National Guard battalion in the nation for achieving the highest standards in training and readiness.
• The 153rd Engineer Battalion received the Deployment Excellence Award that recognizes units for outstanding deployment accomplishments and captures innovative deployment initiatives that may improve the Army’s deployment process.
The 114th Fighter Wing received the William W. Spruance Safety Award, presented annually to the National Guard unit that makes the most significant contribution to accident prevention.
• The 114th Fighter Wing received the Maj. Gen. John J. Pesch Flight Safety Award, presented annually to two flying units judged to have demonstrated the highest standards of flight safety in the Air National Guard.
• For the fifth time in six years, the Department of Defense awarded a SDARNG unit with the Reserve Family Readiness Award for the Army National Guard. The award was presented to the 153rd Engineer Battalion and its Forward Support Company for demonstrating excellence in engaging with and supporting their members’ families.