JOE FOSS FIELD, S.D. --
A welcome home ceremony was held at Joe Foss Field March 4, 2018 to recognize the Airmen of the 114th Fighter Wing who deployed as part of a Reserve Component Period (RCP) deployment over the past 10 months.
One hundred and twenty-six South Dakota Air National Guard Airmen from seventeen different career fields deployed to several locations around the world as part of the RCP. While deployed, Airmen supported Operation Inherent Resolve or Freedom Sentinel throughout the U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Central Command, or U.S. Africa Command.
In attendance to welcome home and recognize the unit members were our South Dakota Congressional Delegates, Sens. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem. Also in attendance were South Dakota National Guard leadership, Gov. Dennis Daugaard and First Lady Linda Daugaard, and the Adjutant General for South Dakota, Maj. Gen. Timothy Reisch. The audience of more than 1,200 included unit members, families, and friends.
“I recognize the sacrifices that you and your families have made this past several months and its a debt that we can never repay.” said Noem.
South Dakota’s leadership recognized the Airmen’s sacrifice and dedication to support these foreign and domestic operations. While the missions these Airmen participated in varied, there was consistently one goal; to provide support to the full-time military forces they supplemented as fully trained and effective Airmen.
“Being back is great. It’s almost surreal. I feel much more a part of the 114th now and it puts a whole new meaning to being in the National Guard. We train for so long, it’s great to finally be able to put all of our skills to work and apply them to our day to day lives.” said Staff Sgt. Gathin Veldhuizen, 114th Civil Engineer firefighter.
It is difficult for Airmen being deployed for long periods and can be equally as difficult for their family members.
"At times it felt like it was longer than six months. Trying to be both parents, getting the kids to where they need to go in addition to working takes a lot. We thankfully have great neighbors and family that were supportive and helped us navigate through the more stressful times during the deployment.” Jodie Greer, wife of Senior Master Sgt. Shawn Greer.
The unit offers many programs to assist these family members before, during, and after the deployments to include briefings on reintegration into civilian life for the members.
The first of the Airmen left for their RCP deployments in April of 2017 and returned approximately October, while the last groups left in July 2017 and returned home in February 2018.
The South Dakota National Guard’s foremost responsibility is to deliver ready, trained and equipped forces to meet the operational demands put before it and to possess the capabilities to be prepared to fight across multiple domains. These Airmen of the South Dakota Air National Guard delivered.