Vermillion provides warm welcome to Charlie Battery

Vermillion provides warm welcome to Charlie Battery
The pomp and circumstance one usually finds at a military ceremony was purposely lacking Sunday afternoon at the Buffalo Run Winery in Vermillion.

After all, the open house held for Vermillion's members of "C" Battery 1/147th Field Artillery, was designed to be a relaxing, informal gathering.

Charlie Battery, based in Yankton, returned for deactivation ceremonies and a festive parade in that community on Oct. 31.

Vermillion community members, however, wanted to make sure that the service of local National Guard members who have just finished a year in harm's way in Iraq is greatly appreciated.

Sunday's program included light snacks and refreshments, and star-spangled gift bags for each of the local Charlie Battery members.

Clay County Veterans' Service Officer Ray Hofman told the small audience that greeted the local troops Sunday of the adventures he encountered after being invited by National Guard leadership to fly to Fort Dix, NJ last month to welcome the National Guard unit.

Hofman's mission was to greet Charlie Battery members and help them complete necessary Veteran's Administration paperwork.

Getting to his destination was no easy task, however. His travel plans changed, making it necessary for him to fly on a commercial airline rather than on state aircraft.

After reaching Chicago, he was stranded for eight hours because of poor weather.

"It was kind of interesting how things can be inconvenient when you are traveling," Hofman told the Charlie Battery members, "but that little inconvenience for me was nothing like the sacrifice that you guys made for us during the last year."

"We are certainly glad to have you home, and once again, we welcome you," Mayor Dan Christopherson said. "Two weeks ago yesterday (Saturday, Sept. 30), we stood on Cherry Street and welcomed you as your bus came through Vermillion ? I'm certain it was a stark contrast to June 2005, when you had to deploy and go the other direction."

Charlie Battery's ability to adapt to conditions much different than peace-time South Dakota, he said, is overwhelming.

"Your resiliency is truly amazing," he said. "We ask you to leave your family, your jobs and your homes and go to a far-away land, and in this case, an active war zone.

"Whether you believed in this war, or any war, you are still steadfast in your commitment as men and women in uniform and we thank you for that."

The city of Vermillion is proud to claim many of you as its residents, Christopherson told the Charlie Battery members Sunday.

"However, we are most proud of the honor, courage and commitment that you and your fellow soldiers showed as you went about doing your duty and serving your country. Thank you for your great self-sacrifice, and welcome home."

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