The unit also changed its name from Company B, 109th Area Support Medical Battalion to the 730th Area Support Medical Company as part of a nationwide National Guard campaign.
The Meritorious Unit Commendation was received by the unit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in performance of outstanding services for at least six continuous months during a period of military operations against an armed enemy.
Lt. Col. Mark Johnston said the commendation has not been received by many South Dakota units.
"I think there are only two units in South Dakota that have received that designation," he said. "So that's huge and talks volumes about the people in
this unit. So this type of ceremony doesn't come along very often."
To earn the commendation, the unit must display such outstanding devotion and superior performance of exceptionally difficult tasks as to set it apart and above other units with similar missions.
Brig. Gen. Keith Corbett called the members of the unit heroes. He said the current global situation is "kind of tough.
"The great news is, the people are still the same," he said.
Vermillion Mayor Dan Christopherson said the unit members have shown "honor, courage and commitment."
"The resiliency of the American soldier is truly amazing," he said. "We ask you to leave your families, your friends, your jobs, the security of your homes, to go to a faraway land and defend our country."
Christopherson quoted the Pledge of Allegiance's promise of "liberty and justice for all."
"You allow us to experience that here at home," he said.
Corbett thanked the families of the unit members, saying their support contributes to the success of the unit.
"We can't do it without you," he said.
The change of Company B's name to the 730th is a return to the past, in a way. The unit bore the name when it was deployed during Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
"This transition to the 730th ASMC is a fitting tribute to current and past members," said Maj. Chris Storms, commander, in a press release. "The 730th ASMC will continue to provide medical support to South Dakota as well as when called upon in times of national need."
The unit is comprised of doctors, dentists, physician assistants, lab personnel, X-ray technicians and medics, along with various support personnel.
"This type of unit is in great demand," Johnston said. "Because (it's in) the health service field, … they not only get military training, but on the job training, as well."
Since 9/11, the South Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,100 soldiers and 730 airmen in support of the global war on terror.
Corbett thanked the members of the unit for their dedication.
"Today on this beautiful Sunday, we are still the land of the free, and that is thanks to you, the brave," he said.