Seven Soldiers from the South Dakota Army National Guard's 451st Engineer Detachment (Firefighting Team) returned home today after completing a one-year tour to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
A welcome home ceremony was held in their honor and nearly 200 family members and friends gathered at the Duke Corning Armory in Rapid City for their arrival.
The Sturgis-based 451st deployed in September 2011 and provided structural fire protection of bases in Marmal, Afghanistan. This was the unit's first deployment.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, adjutant general of the SDNG, were featured speakers at the ceremony and commended the soldiers for a job well-done.
"We're glad you're back, not only so you can come back to the way of life we're so lucky to have here in America, but because we know your safe," said Daugaard. "Whether training Afghans or working with other firefighters from other states or other countries, we're very proud of what you did."
While deployed, the 451st responded to 21 emergency and non-emergency calls for aid, provided fire and life safety evaluations, assisted in a flood relief operation, trained with German forces and trained Afghan National Army soldiers on firefighting techniques.
"The South Dakota National Guard has a tremendous legacy that goes back over 150 years. Each of our units that go off carries that legacy with them," said Reisch. "The 451st has done its part to maintain and extend the legacy. Thank you for what you've done and welcome home."