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SD Army National Guard deploys aerial medical evacuation support to the Middle East

U.S. Army Sgt. Jeffrey Otto, Company C, 1st Battalion, 189th Aviation Regiment, South Dakota Army National Guard, stands for roll call at his deployment ceremony in Rapid City, S.D., Sept. 27, 2017. The 1-189th will depart on a yearlong deployment to the Middle East to provide aerial medical evacuation support.

Story by Capt. Chad Carlson

South Dakota National Guard Public Affairs  

Family, friends and community supporters gathered at Rapid City’s Rushmore Plaza Civic Center for a deployment ceremony for more than 90 Soldiers of the South Dakota Army National Guard’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 189th Aviation Regiment, Sept. 27.

The Rapid City-based 1-189th, comprised of pilots, crew chiefs, medics, aviation operations specialists and other support personnel, is deploying to the Middle East where they will provide aerial medical evacuation support with its HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.

“We’re here today to thank you for answering the difficult call to leave the comfort of your homes, to leave the embraces of your families and to serve your country,” South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard told the Soldiers.

He then thanked the family members, employers, coworkers, friends and neighbors that would make sacrifices of their own during the yearlong deployment.

“Several of you who are deploying are serving in other government jurisdictions in one role or another,” Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender said during the ceremony. “There are law enforcement officers, firefighters, sheriff deputies, EMTs, paramedics and other types of government employees.

“In response to your commitment to this nation, I would like to say thank you for serving our country,” added Allender. “Thank you for serving our state. Thank you for living in and serving our local communities. Also, thank you for reminding us that there are real problems in the world and that volunteers such as yourselves have been tasked with finding and implementing a solution.”

The unit will report to Fort Hood, Texas, to complete several months of theater-specific training prior to deploying overseas.

“I want to tell you, that I couldn’t be more proud of this unit,” Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, SDNG’s adjutant general said to the Soldiers during the ceremony. “You’ve executed a rigorous training plan. I know you’re ready. We all look forward to being here about a year from now to welcome you home.”

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, this will be the third mobilization for the unit which deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn from 2011-2012 and supported peacekeeping operations in Kosovo from 2008-2009.

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