More than 90 South Dakotans in the Army National Guard will soon be deploying overseas.
After two years of training, the 189th Aviation Regiment, composed of pilots, crew chiefs, medics, and operation specialists will be performing medical evacuations. The group was recently named one of the country's 35 most superior units. As 1st Sargent Michael Martin says, there's a mix of emotions during a deployment ceremony like Wednesday's.
1st Sargent for the 189th Aviation Regiment Michael Martin says, "Right now, the biggest thing that's going through everybody's mind is that they're leaving their family, their friends. It's always the prime thing, especially on a day like today. But after that, the focus is the mission. We've been training roughly for two years, this last year, very hard getting under new air frame, and so what everyone's really on their mind is I've been doing this training for a reason, I'm going to get to go do the mission that I was trained for, and so I think there's a lot of excitement to do that."
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard says, "Their families are going to have to carry on with a hole in the family structure, and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and spouses are going to have to step up and fill that hole. Family members and friends and employees are going to have to step up and fill the hole that's left by these men and women, and I know they will."
The group will first head to Fort Hood in Texas to complete more training prior to deployment. They will then be stationed in the Middle East for approximately nine months.