Soldiers retreat for Christmas

Soldiers retreat for Christmas
Approximately 120 Soldiers from the 235th Military Police Company were greeted by family and friends as the Soldiers returned from Fort Bliss, Texas, aboard a chartered aircraft Saturday, Dec. 23, at the Rapid City Regional Airport to enjoy a five-day holiday break at home in South Dakota.Unit members have been training since early October of this year at Camp McGregor, N.M., located northwest of Fort Bliss, in preparation for a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The trip was made possible by gracious donations from state employees. The state government employees' contributions exceeded $20,000 for the "Bring the Troops Home" effort to fund a charter flight for the members of the 235th Military Police Company's return home for Christmas.

Gov. Rounds thanked state government employees across South Dakota for their generosity to the special casual day fundraiser that was held on December 8. "It is important to help these families share the celebration of Christmas together," said Gov. Rounds.�"The continued generosity of South Dakota's state government employees has made this Christmas special for these troops."

While serving in Afghanistan, the military police unit is expected to perform various types of security missions including traffic control points. The unit members will return to the Texas mobilization station on Dec. 28 to finalize training and deployment preparation before leaving for Afghanistan in mid-January. The 235th Military Police Company is a South Dakota Army National Guard unit headquartered in Custer, S.D., with detachments in Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

Soldiers that make up the unit come from the following hometowns: Aberdeen, Andover, Belle Fourche, Black Hawk, Box Elder, Brandon, Britton, Brookings, Browns Valley, Buffalo, Burke, Castlewood, Colome, Crooks, Custer, Deadwood, Flandreau, Fort Pierre, Hartford, Hermosa, Hoven, Lake Andes, Miller, Mitchell, Olivet, Phillip, Pierre, Pine Ridge, Rapid City, Rosholt, Sioux Falls, Sturgis, Tulare, Wagner, Wanblee, Watertown, Webster, Wessington Springs and Yankton.

Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the South Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 2,900 Soldiers and 750 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terror. During the peak of deployments in February of 2004, South Dakota had more than 1,500 Soldiers in Iraq at one time.

Currently, approximately 70 Soldiers and Airmen from the South Dakota National Guard remain on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 4,000 National Guard men and women are still serving in a non-active duty status in South Dakota.

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