This Week In S.D. National Guard History

In recognition of the South Dakota National Guard's 150 years of service to the state and nation from 1862-2012, the SDNG will be publishing significant dates in the history of the organization all year long for the media's use in your publications or broadcasts.

For more information on these events, please contact the SDNG Historian, CW5 Duke Doering at (605) 737-6581, or e-mail

On this date in SDNG history:

April 3, 1945

On this date in SDNG history – 2nd Lt. Clarence A. Thompson, 147th Field Artillery, was killed at the port of Legaspi, Albay, the Philippines during World War II. Thompson, the first 147th officer lost in combat operations in more than a year, was killed by shell fragments while adjusting fire during the night. Japanese troops had occupied the area since 1942. American forces, with artillery fire from the 147th, supported the Filipino liberation forces and Bicolano guerrillas in successfully liberating Legaspi in 1945.

April 4, 1937

On this date in SDNG history – The 2nd Battalion, 147th Field Artillery was commanded by Lt. Col. Leslie Jensen on this date in 1937.

Jensen was a very interesting Soldier who had a long and distinguished career. As a young man, he was a cadet at Culver Military Academy. He had been the regiment supply officer for the 4th South Dakota Infantry on the Mexican Border in 1916-17.  Jensen was adjutant of the 147th Field Artillery Regiment in France during World War I. In 1936, he was elected governor of South Dakota. He retained his assignment as battalion commander, and for two years, had the unique distinction of being – at the same time – a battalion commander and his own commander-in-chief as governor. There may have been some conflict of interest in this dual-status, but the question was never raised. When the 147th Field Artillery was called to active duty in 1940, he went with the regiment to Fort Ord, Calif., as the regiment executive officer. When Col. Foster was relieved, he succeeded to command of the 147th Field Artillery, and as a colonel, led the unit in the South Pacific in World War II.  The unit had left Pearl Harbor on Nov. 30 and was on the way to the Philippines on Dec. 7, 1941. After the Japanese attack, the unit was diverted to Darwin, Australia. Jensen continued in command until 1944 when he became a senior staff officer on Gen. Kruger's staff. Gen. Kruger was the overall ground commander in the Pacific Theater. After the war, Jensen returned to Hot Springs to resume management of his family-owned telephone company.

April 5, 1991

On this date in SDNG history – Several South Dakota National Guard units in the Black Hills region were called to provide air and ground assistance to 580 firefighters who were called to put out the Horse Creek fire 12 miles west of Rapid City. "I think nearly all the units in the Hills area are involved somehow in this operation," said Lt. Col. Dennis Pike, military support officer for the South Dakota National Guard. Trucks, fueling

 quipment and dozers supported the ground effort while UH-1 "Huey" helicopters flew more than 60 dousing missions. "Flying in a fire is tough enough, but if the wind is strong it becomes a real challenge," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bill Waeckerle. The Huey's flew directly over the fire and dumped water with a 140-gallon "Bambi Bucket," which was filled from local lakes. The fire claimed an estimated 1,510 acres.

April 6, 2004

On this date in SDNG history – The 740th Transportation Company had been in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for nearly one year – they had arrived in Kuwait on April 20, 2003.  On April 6, 2004, nearly one year later, they were considered "mission complete." They were to turn the mission over to a new unit and prepare to return to their home stations in Milbank and Brookings. The 740th was within five days of returning to the United States when on April 9 Capt. Dan Stapleton learned that all re-deployment operations had been put on hold. The unit was told that they were needed to help the 1st Armored Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force on haul missions into Iraq because of the deteriorating situation. It seems there was an increase in violence and uprisings in Iraq. This push was supposed to last two to three weeks. It was July before the final, and real, "mission complete" was announced. The 740th departed Kuwait on July 27 for return to Fort Carson, Colo.  Staff Sgt. Robert Weinmeister's log reported that during their tour they had logged more than 2 million miles on nearly 400 missions. They completed haul missions to 41 different camps to every area of the country. They encountered several incidents when convoys were hit with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and small arms fire, but there were few injuries and most of those were not severe.

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