This Week In South Dakota 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 10, 1942

On this date in SDNG history – Bataan Death March, Philippines: Lieutenant Theodore I. Spaulding was an American Soldier on the Philippine Islands when the Japanese attacked the islands in December 1941. The U.S. and Filipino soldiers fought hard for four months, but they were finally overwhelmed and on April 9, 1942, they waived the white flag of surrender. The Japanese military had no way of being prepared to accept 78,000 prisoners. Without proper transportation for the 12,000 U.S. and 66,000 Filipino prisoners, they decided to march their POWs to Camp McDonald. The Bataan Death March began on April 10, 1942, with the POWs marching up the east coast of Bataan. The men, already desperately weakened by hunger and disease, suffered unspeakably during the march. POWs who could not continue or keep up with the pace were summarily executed. Some of the guards made a sport of hurting or killing the POWs. The Death Marchers received almost no water or food, further weakening their fragile bodies. The POWs marched roughly 65 miles over the course of about six days until they reached San Fernando. Many of them died. Lieutenant Spaulding was one of those who lived. When the war ended more than three years later, he was working as slave in the coal mines in Japan.  Following the end of World War II, Lt. Spaulding remained in the Army. In March 1950, he was assigned as an army advisor to the 3rd Battalion, 196th Regimental Combat Team. He went on active duty with the 196th during the Korean War mobilization with the mission of commanding the Provisional Battalion, to train new recruits for the regiment. Spaulding remained in the Army until April 1953, when he joined the 196th RCT of the South Dakota National Guard. When the 196th RCT was de-activated, he went to the newly formed 153rd Engineer Battalion, which he commanded for nine years. He later was promoted to colonel and commanded the 109th Engineer Group. His last assignment prior to his retirement was a state appointment as the assistant adjutant general.

April 11, 1945

On this date in SDNG history – World War II, Italy: The 109th Engineer Battalion had just completed its 495th day of combat in World War II. They started as one of the first U.S. Army units in the European Theater. Company C had entered North Africa on November 8, 1942. On this date in 1945, they were near the top of the boot in Northern Italy and were chasing the German Army. They were told by the 34th Infantry Division that "everybody from General Mark Clark, 5th Army Commander, to the newest recruit was aware of their tremendously long past record," which in five days would surpass 500 days in combat.

April 12, 1945

On this date in SDNG history – World War II, President Roosevelt: Battery B, 147th Field Artillery had taken a position near Bacon in the Philippine Islands where they supported the 158th Infantry. It was here they learned that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died that day. The news from the United States, which was usually slow, spread like wildfire to the South Dakota troops manning the big guns. Roosevelt was the longest serving president in U.S. history. He worked closely in leading the allies against Germany and Japan, but died just as victory was in sight.

April 13, 1976

On this date in SDNG history – South Dakota National Guard Enlisted Association: On this date, South Dakota Governor Richard Kneip spoke to the members of the SDNGEA at their annual convention held in Huron. Staff Sgt. Rodney Rau, from Watertown, was named Soldier-of-the-Year, and Master Sgt. Paul Mielke, of Sioux Falls, was named Airman-of-the-Year. Officers elected to head the association were 1st Sgt. Don List, Yankton, president; Tech. Sgt. Robert Spencer, Sioux Falls, vice president and Master Sgt. Arlon McNeely, Vermillion, treasurer.  Sgt. 1st Class Howard Hermanson, of Yankton, was appointed secretary. Elected as committeemen-at-large were Staff Sgt. Clifford Doty, Rapid City; Master Sgt. Melvin Schneider, Mitchell; Senior Master Sgt. Jean Spang and Senior Master Sgt. Lowell Voigt, both of Sioux Falls. Sgt. Maj. Virgil Williams, of Mississippi, president of the National Enlisted Association, announced that 1st Sgt. John Ball, Woonsocket, will be appointed first vice president of the national organization.

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