RAPID CITY, S.D. - Hundreds of family members, friends and co-workers joined together at the Stevens High School gymnasium for a deployment ceremony for 124 Soldiers of the South Dakota Army National Guard's 235th Military Police Company, Saturday, Feb. 2.
The Rapid City and Sioux Falls-based 235th will serve a yearlong tour in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit's mission is to provide security for U.S. military personnel, installation and facilities and to guard prisoners of war and civilian internees.
This is the third mobilization for the 235th - deploying in support of Operation Noble Eagle in Fort Carson, Colo., in 2003, as well as in support of OEF in Afghanistan in 2006.
"The service the 235th has provided to our state and nation is incredible," said Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a featured speaker during the ceremony. "You've provided support to our state during the 2000 Jasper Fire and 2011 Missouri River Flood, as well as deployed to Fort Carson, Colorado, after 9/11 and to Afghanistan in 2006. Today, you deploy again once more and have answered the call of your nation."
"This is the third time our unit has been called to active duty. Over the last 10 months, you all have worked extremely hard on completing the training put forth in front of you to prepare for this deployment," said 235th Commander, Capt. Thadius Schmit, while addressing his Soldiers at the ceremony. "This speaks volumes of your commitment and sacrifice to your state and nation."
"The South Dakota National Guard has a rich history of deploying service members in times of need," said Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, the adjutant general of the SDNG, during the ceremony. "The 235th adds to that heritage.
"The South Dakota Guard has been sending people out the door to do missions the state and nation has needed for 151 years," continued Reisch. "We have a developed a tremendous legacy over that century and a half. There is no question that the 235th will continue to enhance the legacy of our organization."
The unit will report to Fort Bliss, Texas, to complete several weeks of theater-specific training prior to deploying overseas.
"You will leave on this deployment as teams, squads and platoons and will return as brothers and sisters and as a family," said Schmit. "I'm not sure what our year ahead is going to look like, but I know we will make our community, state and nation proud."
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