By Herb Ryan
A welcome home ceremony was held for over 150 Soldiers of the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 155th Engineer Company on Saturday, July 2, at 4:00 p.m. MDT at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Barnett Arena in Rapid City. The Rapid City and Wagner-based returned home after a 10-month deployment to Kuwait. Speakers for the ceremony were Gov. Dennis Daugaard, U.S. Senators John Thune, U.S. Representative Kristi Noem, Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender and Major General Tim Reisch, the adjutant-general of the SDNG.
The first plane load of troops arrived in time for the original ceremony at 2:00 PM, that was pushed forward because of a delay in Texas of the second flight. After a flight delay of 90 minutes, the second group of SD Army National Guard 155th Engineer Company troops arrived at the eight street entrance to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center around 3:30 PM. Escorted by police vehicles and a veterans motorcycle group. Much to the delight of the waiting group of friends and family, the two charted buses pulled into the curb and started discharging their passengers.
There was a solid, controlled movement towards the buses to search for a loved one, no pushing or shoving. Some were greeted by one or two people, others were encircled by groups of extended family and friends. After a long flight and delay, fatigue was a burden but not enough to smother the joy of a welcome home for all.