On March 20th, 2003 the 109th Engineer Company of the South Dakota Army National Guard from Sturgis became the first South Dakota unit to enter Iraq during the “Shock and Awe” campaign. The National Guard unit was also the first to enter Kuwait from South Dakota.
Following its five months of service in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 39 battalion members underwent a demobilization process in Fort Carson, CO where they received medical screenings and financial reviews. The members then made their way home to Sturgis, where they were honored at a parade. A welcoming ceremony was also held at Grunwald Middle School where Governor M. Michael Rounds addressed the soldiers and their families.
Just four years later, the 109th Battalion was reorganized and relocated to Rapid City-based parent unit, the 109th Regional Support Group. A new unit, the 881st Troop Command, replaced the 109th unit in Sturgis. The 109th Battalion had its beginnings in 1924 and was organized with companies from Rapid City, Madison, Brookings, Huron, Lead, Hot Springs, and Belle Fourche. It had been located in Sturgis since March 4, 1930.
Read more about Sturgis on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.