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South Dakota Congressional Delegation Welcomes Home 114th Fighter Wing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jorrie Hart
  • 114th Fighter Wing

The South Dakota Air National Guard held a welcome home ceremony at the Ramkota Inn Exhibit Hall, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The ceremony was held to recognize Airmen of the 114th Fighter Wing who deployed as part of the state’s largest air and space expeditionary force (AEF) mission. 

Three hundred thirty-five Airmen were deployed to Afghanistan, Qatar, and Germany to provide over watch to our coalition and Afghan forces in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. 

“The airpower the South Dakota Air National Guard brings to this area of responsibility will continue to assist the Afghan government and security forces in their fight against Taliban, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other insurgents, and prevent re-establishment of international terrorist safe havens.” Lt. Col. Cory Kestel, 175th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander said, during the deployment.

Now that the Airmen are home, the ceremony provides an opportunity for state and local leadership to express their appreciation to those who contributed to the success of the mission, as well as their family members. 

In attendance to welcome home and recognize the Airmen were Gov. Kristi Noem, Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds, Rep. Dusty Johnson, Mayor Paul TenHaken, The Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Timothy A. Reisch, other military members and close family and friends. 

Several spoke of the rich history and remarkable reputation the 114th FW has when it comes to deploying and how proud they are to be part of a ceremony to welcome members home. 

“I just want you to know how much we appreciate you. How grateful we are to you for always being willing to answer the call to carry out your mission with proficiency, professionalism and dedication,” said Thune. “Every time you deploy we are grateful for the opportunity to welcome you back and to thank you for a job well done.” 

As Rep. Johnson spoke, he emphasized the willingness to serve and the sacrifices made by the Airmen’s support system.

“You served our country in profound and important ways,” said Johnson. “The weight of that sacrifice has been felt by your families, your employers and your friends. Do you know what’s most impressive about all of that to me? You do it voluntarily.” 

Johnson ended his speech by saying he had only one thing to do on a day as such when he has received a gift that could never be repaid. 

“114th, friends, employers and especially families of the 114th, Thank you.”