Fossum named new National Gaurd unit commander By David Lias
Plain Talk In a ceremony steeped in tradition, Major David Fossum, Brookings, became the new commander of the 730th Area Support Medical Company of the South Dakota Army National Guard, following a change of command ceremony held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 11, at the National Guard Armory in Vermillion. Fossum has taken over the responsibilities of former commander MAJ Christopher Storms, Manhattan, KS, who served in the command position since September of 2005. MAJ Fossum enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 1983 as an air defense artilleryman. He served on active duty from August 1984 through May 1988 with the 24th Infantry Division in Georgia and the 1st Armor Division in Germany. After completion of his active service, he attended South Dakota State University and received his bachelor's degree in biology and German. He attend Physician's Assistant school at The University of South Dakota from 1996 through 1998, and has since been employed as an emergency medicine physician's assistant at the hospital in Brookings. In August 2000, Fossum received a direct commission and joined the South Dakota Army National Guard with the 147th Field Artillery. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from March through May 2003. In December 2007, he joined Company B 109th Area Support Medical Battalion as the senior physician's assistant. The change of leadership from Storms to Fossum was signified by the transfer of the company guidon, which is a small flag carried as a standard by a military unit. This transfer was witnessed by members of the medical company, who stood in formation in the auditorium of the armory. According to a narrator at Saturday's ceremony, the transfer of guidon passes on the unit's legacy as a building block for future performance and achievement. Historically, the guidon served as the point around which soldiers of an organization rallied as they moved forward into battle. "The guidon is an extension of the unit colors to the company level," the narrator said. "With the transfer of the guidon here today goes the transfer of responsibility for the accomplishment of the 730th's mission and the welfare of the troops." "This unit has a very storied history," Fossum said to the soldiers of the company after being named commander. "We plan to continue that legacy." He thanked his predecessor, MAJ Storms, for the assistance he provided during the time of transition that eventually led to Saturday's transfer of leadership. "We plan to keep improving on the great medical care that we always provide, to become a top notch asset to our state and our nation," Fossum said. "I can't do this alone; I count on each and every one of you to help me and this unit to get to that goal." He pledged to provide and foster leadership within the medical company. "Another goal is to make our training as meaningful and realistic as possible," Fossum said, "and to have fun. You don't have to just work, work, work; I want this to be a fun unit that you look forward to serving in. The camaraderie that you already have here is very important. "Our great state is counting on us, our soldiers need us, and our nation also depends on us," he said. The mission of the 730th is to provide medical services for all National Guard units across the state. The unit consists of doctors, nurses, physician assistants, combat medics, radiological technicians and a variety of medical support personnel. The Vermillion-based company was known as Company B, 109th Area Support Medical Battalion. Its name was changed to the 730th Area Support Medical Company during a ceremony at the National Guard Armory in Vermillion on Sunday, April 6, 2008. At last year's ceremony, the unit also received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for meritorious service during its deployment to Iraq in 2003-2004. The changing of the unit's name was part of steps taken by the National Guard to become a more effective part of the active duty component. MAJ Storms, Fossum's predecessor, enlisted in the 730th Clearing Company in November 1990 as a patient administration specialist. He transferred to the South Dakota Medical Command in 1994 as a patient administration NCO. He completed his bachelor's degree in nursing from South Dakota State University and a direct commission in September 1997. In October 2002, LT Storms transferred to Company B, 109th Area Support Medical Battalion as a holding nurse. He deployed with unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2003 to April 2004. In September 2005, MAJ Storms assumed command of Company B, 109th Area Support Medical Battalion and continued through the reorganization of the unit to the 730th Area Support Medical Company. MAJ Storms recently completed his master's degree in nurse anesthesia and moved to Manhatten, KS. His next duty assignment will be with the South Dakota Medical Command. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the South Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 soldiers and 1,000 airmen in support of the overseas contingency operations. Currently, more than 375 soldiers and airmen from the South Dakota National Guard remain on duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations throughout Southwest Asia and Europe. More than 4,500 National Guardsmen are available in South Dakota to provide support for state and national emergencies and homeland defense.