Vermillion National Guard medical unit called to duty National Guard personnel were busy checking over military vehicles parked at the old armory near downtown Vermillion Monday. The community's Guard unit was put on alert last Friday. by David Lias The National Guard Armory in Vermillion � commonly used as a recreation center by the community's youth � became off limits to the public effective Wednesday.
National Guard troops were scheduled to begin arriving at the armory on Thursday, Dave Nelson, head of the city's parks and recreation department, told the Vermillion City Council Tuesday.
Vermillion's Company B, 109th Medical Battalion received its alert notice last Friday for possible duty in support of Operation Noble Eagle/Enduring Freedom.
That "possible duty" has become reality.
Company B received orders to report for federal service Feb. 24, making it the eighth South Dakota National Guard unit called into service this year.
Company B plays a part in the Army's medical mission and provides medical services for all Guard units across the state.
Since serving in Desert Storm, the unit has trained in Panama, Jamaica, and Honduras.
The 69-member unit consists of doctors, nurses, physician assistants, combat medics, radiological technicians, and a variety of medical support personnel.
Company B was formerly the 730th Medical Company of Vermillion and Winner until its current designation in November 1995.
Company B's commander is Major David Auch and 1st Sgt. Dean Caton is the top non-commissioned officer.
Nelson told the council that Vermillion has a unique relationship with its National Guard unit, because the city helped finance the construction of the armory.
That assistance is part of the basis of an agreement that allows community members to use the facility for recreation.
"In times of war, if our Guard unit gets called away, and if another Guard unit is coming through town and needs to train
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at our facility, they get preference to do that," Nelson said.
The armory closed to the public at noon Wednesday. New phone lines have been added to the facility.
"The troops will come in Thursday morning, and stay and bunk there until they get their orders," Nelson said. "We've called off all activities at the armory, and no one is allowed in there except Guard members and their families.
"Hopefully by Sunday they'll get their orders to either go or stay," he said Tuesday.
On Wednesday, those orders came through.
The South Dakota Army National Guard will hold an activation ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Slagle Auditorium on the University of South Dakota campus.
The ceremony will be a tribute to Company B's doctors, nurses, physician assistants, combat medics, radiological technicians and medical support personnel.
This week unit members will receive anthrax shots and other inoculations, finish their paperwork and take care of equipment and supplies.
Smallpox shots will also be given at mobilization stations.