Letters Tremendous support

To the editor:

I wanted to extend my warm wishes to Company B of the 109th Medical Battalion that recently returned from their long deployment to Iraq.

I saw the one picture in the Plain Talk of the parade in Vermillion, and I can only imagine the Heroes Welcome that they received. I served eight months in Iraq in Tikrit, and after redeploying to Germany for two weeks, I was sent back to Baghdad for an additional three months.

I took my leave back to my home in Vermillion in February, much to the surprise of my family (most of them). It was the best three weeks I can remember, and I know how much it meant for me personally to come back to South Dakota, to familiar faces and a safe home. The food has never tasted better as I think I hit every restaurant in Vermillion and the surrounding area, and though the three feet of snow I flew into on my first day back was a bit of a surprise as was the extreme cold weather, I admit it was a nice change of pace from the summer temperatures in the desert.

� I want to thank Dr. Ross' American Heritage Class for giving me the opportunity to come and speak, as well as Mrs. Monfore's first-graders, and the second-graders at Austin School.

I never run out of stories, and the more I can share with people about first-hand experience as opposed to what the media presents on a daily basis to portray only the bad things happening in Iraq, the better I feel that people can understand the role our military is serving while at war.

On my last day in Iraq, I realized how truly small the Army is, true to the old clich�. I ran into Master Sergeant Iverson, whose relatives are from Vermillion, and after going through our family lines, I realized his family branch was the "Iverson-Siecke Funeral Home" Iversons from Vermillion.�

I also reunited with Major Ines White, whose husband Chris White's parents are Pat and Jerry Pratt of Vermillion. We spent a week together in Qatar where she is still stationed, and reflected on the irony of two small-town South Dakota girls reuniting at war.

I am now back in home station in Germany, and my unit has been selected to host the 60th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France so this will be a nice change of pace to prepare for. Thank you to all the Vermillion people for your tremendous support to our military.

I know that if Company B of the 109th was treated as well as I was when they got back, then they were truly welcomed back home as the heroes they are. God Bless you all.

Captain Erica Iverson

Hanau, Germany

Welcome home, 109th

To the editor:

I was impressed by the outpouring of support for the National Guard�s 109th Medical Unit Company B deactivation in Vermillion, and want to commend the unit and their families for the brave service to our country during the year-long deployment in Iraq.

Last year�s activation of National Guard soldiers was the largest in our state�s history since World War II. Over the past year, members of the 109th provided critical medical treatment to soldiers and Iraqis near Baghdad.

I understand that the unit treated 12,000 Coalition troops and over 26,500 Iraqis, working to give life to battle�s darkest side. Medical units play a crucial role in our military force, and I applaud this 69-member unit�s tireless work.

South Dakotans have one of the highest rates of past military service in the country, and today the 109th join our state�s proud tradition of dedication to our nation. They have offered to make every sacrifice, including life itself, to protect our freedom and security.

Likewise, the families and friends of soldiers served as a critical support network throughout the deployment period. Parents, spouses, co-workers and employers pulled together during their time away, yet not a day went by without the soldiers on our minds.

The 109th soldiers and their families have played a critical role in this unique time in our nations history. Thanks to all of you for you courage, sacrifice and noble commitment to this country and its ideals. At long last, welcome home.

With best wishes, I am


Tom Daschle

United States Senate

Step back into history

To the editor:

On a recent Sunday afternoon, my wife Gloria and I visited Spirit Mound north of Vermillion. It was a perfect day to be out enjoying nature, and I

started the walk up the mound, not sure if I would go all the way to the top.

I found the walking trail to have a good surface for trekking, and the gradual ascent as it winds around the mound was fairly easy to negotiate.

From the parking lot, it is about a 26 minute walk to the top, and well worth the effort. It was an unusually calm day, with clear skies, and visibility was unlimited. What a treat to view the beautiful countryside in all directions without a single obstruction!

I had not done this since I was with my Boy Scout Troop many years ago. The walk back down to the parking area took just 11 minutes, so in well under an hour you can take a step back into history and see the perspective Lewis and Clark had 200 years ago.

I would strongly recommend the experience.

Dan Christopherson


Feedback welcomed

To the editor:

I want to thank the people of Clay County who met with my staff assistant, Erik Nelson, during his recent outreach day in Vermillion and Wakonda. Erik has updated me on the information and feedback that he received from Clay County citizens.

Erik had the opportunity to meet with a variety of business and community leaders during his day in Clay County. Erik started his day in Wakonda holding traveling office hours at the Community Cafe. He then met with officials from the various school, town, and county organizations in Vermillion and Wakonda. Finally, Erik concluded his day in Vermillion by attending, on my behalf, the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce & Development Company annual banquet.

My staff�s outreach days help me maintain communication with local communities regarding their ongoing development and growth and keep me informed of any issues of concern that they are dealing with. Again, I thank everyone who shared their concerns during these meetings. As always, feel free to contact my office toll free at 1-800-537-0025.


Tim Johnson

United States Senate

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