City celebrates soldier’s return home

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by Katie Zerr

Flags waving and smiling faces greeted the South Dakota National Guard’s Detachment 2 of the 200th Engineering Company in Mobridge on Saturday, May 12, as the unit returned home from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
Soldiers from Det. 2 of the multi-role bridge company were greeted with a parade and welcoming home ceremony at the Mobridge-Pollock High School gym in mid-afternoon, after starting Saturday morning in Fort Dix, N. J. The unit had spent a week at Fort Dix for de-mobilizing requirements. They left the East Coast just after 1 a.m., flying to Sioux Falls before boarding a bus for the trip to Pierre.

The soldiers were greeted in the state’s capitol with a parade through Fort Pierre to Riggs High School where a deactivation ceremony was held before they caravanned back to Mobridge. More than 2,000 people joined Sen. John Thune, Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill, Fort Pierre Mayor Sam Tidball, and Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, the adjutant general of the South Dakota National Guard, at Riggs High School for a welcome home ceremony. Thune thanked the soldiers for their courageous, professional service.

Daugaard thanked the soldiers for what they had done for Americans, South Dakotans and for the people of Afghanistan.
He spoke of his recent trip to Afghanistan and how many precautions were taken for his safety.

“We are safe and we’re free. You don’t need body armor to stand on a parade route and clap,” he told the soldiers. “You don’t have to worry about IEDs as people applaud your return home. The reason you don’t need any of those things is because of the American Soldier.”

In Mobridge, Mayor Jamie Dietterle spoke of the pride the community has in the unit and their accomplishments in
Afghanistan. He told the soldiers about his experience with a soldier’s mother on her way to Pierre to meet her son and she spoke about the homecoming.

“No words were needed,” he said. “I saw the pride in her eyes.”

After the short ceremony Lt. Brendan Poore officially dismissed the soldiers. They will enjoy about three months away from their duties before they will began training again in the fall.

The 200th of Pierre, Chamberlain and Mobridge deployed to Afghanistan in May 2011 with a mission to maintain, repair and replace existing military bridges throughout the country. The unit built five bridges, deconstructed one, completed 54 bridge repair missions, conducted 10 reconnaissance missions to support theater engineer operations, and conducted 16 inspection missions to support theater bridging operations.

– Katie Zerr –

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