Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

The 24th Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson will be giving a lecture at the Journey Museum on June 25th, at 7PM. According to the Rapid City Journal, the lecture will be on the topic of “War and Computers” and will be free and open to the public. Secretary Wilson is the former President of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

This lecture is sponsored by the Classics Institute at Dakota State University and is part of their ongoing lecture series “The Cultural Consequences of Computers”. The lecture will discuss how technology has revolutionized modern warfare.

Find event details here. Find more news articles about the Journey Museum in the Black Hills Knowledge Network digital archive.

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Wednesday, 04 April 2018 14:12

Ellsworth Airmen Depart to Combat Terrorism

Two B-1 bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base recently departed to Qatar, reports KOTA News. The B-1 bombers will support missions that are currently battling against terrorist organizations. B-1 bombers have not assisted in combat since 2016, when the fleet was pulled for substantial upgrades. Prior to 2016, the bombers had been in continuous combat since 2001.

While over half of the B-1 bomber fleet has been upgraded, the final upgrades are not expected to be completed until 2019. The upgrades come at a cost of $127 million and include the installation of an integrated battle station.

To read more about Ellsworth Air Force Base, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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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.

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Nearly two years after the Air Force opened the Powder River Training Complex over the Northern Plains and strengthened Ellsworth Air Force Base's strategic importance, ranchers in the areas where the trainings occur have been impressed with the progress made in handling complaints on low flying aircraft. According to the Rapid City Journal, there is also an advisory council that was created when the complex expansion was approved to address these concerns and has also kept in touch with them to ensure that any issues are brought to the Air Force's attention quickly.

To read up on past and current news articles related to Ellsworth Air Force Base, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive site.

For more information on the base itself, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Community Profiles page.

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The Golden Coyote training exercise will take place over the next two weeks in the Black Hills reports the Rapid City Journal.  Thirteen states, two territories, and one national territory will come to the area to partake in the event.  The South Dakota National Guard began the training exercises in 1984 with cooperation from the National Forest Service and Custer State Park

Initial processing will take place at Ellsworth Air Force Base and then troops will be dispersed to West Camp Rapid, Custer State Park, and the Northern Hills for the 14 days of exercises.  Training tactics will include convoy travel, first-aid, firearm use and more.  Participants are able to gain on the job experience thanks to these efforts.

To learn more about the Golden Coyote, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive.  You can learn more about work and economy in the area by visiting the Black Hills Knowledge Network community profile.  

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President Trump's federal budget request calls for an increase of $54 billion in defense and veteran's affairs spending. According to the Rapid City Journal, Ellsworth Air Force Base could be a beneficiary of the increase and help to solidify the viability of the base in any future Base Closure and Realignment commission hearings. While Ellsworth has diversified its mission since the last round of hearings in 2005, it has also become a national financial services call center for retired Air Force personnel, further enhancing its importance in the U.S. military complex.

To read up on past and current news articles on Ellsworth AFB, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive.

For more information on the base itself, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network Community Profiles page.

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South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) President Heather Wilson will likely be nominated as Secretary of the Air Force, according to the Black Hills Pioneer.  Wilson would be the first Air Force Academy graduate to hold the position, if confirmed by the Senate. Wilson also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1998 until 2009.

Wilson will continue on as president of SDSM&T until she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. If confirmed, Wilson will immediately leave her post at the university and an interim president will be appointed. The South Dakota Board of Regents is responsible for conducting a search for a new president.

To read more news from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive

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The South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority has been steadily working over the years since the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) hearings in 2005 to keep Ellsworth Air Force Base off of any future closure lists. The Rapid City Journal reports that the group has been doing this by helping to keep base facilities updated and trying to buy plots of land near the accident potential zone to keep civilian homes out of potential danger. These steps were identified as potential problems that the base faced during the last round of BRAC hearings in 2005.

To read up on past news articles related to Ellsworth AFB, click on this archives link.

For more information on the air base itself, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network resource page.

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As the annual Golden Coyote military exercises have started in the Black Hills, medics from the different National Guard groups participating are getting experience administering first aid under simulated scenarios. The article from the Rapid City Journal reports that the medics are gaining valuable experience in treating battlefield wounds from multiple situations while under simulated fire from enemy combatants. The training experience will help the medics to do their job more efficiently should they come under fire while attempting to save a wounded soldier's life on the battlefield.

Be sure to check out past news articles related to the Golden Coyote exercises at this archives link.

For more information on the exercises as well as a history of the event, check this South Dakota National Guard website.

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President Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the Black Hills in early June 1953, although the precise dates have been difficult to pin down. There is a newspaper article dated June 11 reporting a Rapid City parade and Eisenhower's dedication and renaming of Ellsworth Air Force Base on June 13

A collection of undated photos in the South Dakota State Archives document his arrival, the parade and a speech at Mount Rushmore. According to this account from Custer State Park Resort, Eisenhower's stayed at the Custer State Park Game Lodge for three days. He was the second president to stay there, following Calvin Coolidge who spent the summer in 1927.

According to the Custer State Park Resort website: "In 1953, the park was again home to a President. President Eisenhower, on a visit to the Black Hills for a speaking engagement, stayed in the State Game Lodge. The visit lasted only three days, but as an indication of how times had changed, it occasioned even greater preparations for the lodge with tighter security, an extensive communications system, and a far bigger crowd of secret service agents, staff members, and reporters. 

"Activities at the lodge that week included several formal dinners and speeches, but Eisenhower also took the opportunity to spend as much time as he could fishing for trout in the pools of French Creek."

A room at the lodge is now named for Eisenhower, as is one for Coolidge.

At his dedication of Ellsworth Air Force Base, Eisenhower honored Brig. Gen. Richard Ellsworth, who had died during a mission three months prior. 

He said: "We are met here in tribute to a gallant and patriotic American, a man whose name will always be an inspiration to the members of his family and his loved ones, his friends, to the members of his garrison, to all the Armed Services, and to Americans everywhere. It is now my very great honor to dedicate this great base in memory of Brigadier General Richard Ellsworth."

Published in Home

As World War II engulfed Europe and Asia in 1941, the United States readied its defenses by establishing new military bases in the interior of the country. 

Rapid City Air Force Base became home to the 88th Bombardment Group and the 17th Bombardment Training Wing in October of 1942. At the base, crews were trained to fly B-17 Flying Fortress airplanes.

Between 1942 and 1945, approximately 8,500 military pilots, radio operators, gunners and navigators rotated through the new facility.

As the tide of the war turned in 1944, the mission of Rapid City Air Force Base changed to train pilots to fly the new B-29 bomber on long range runs over Japan.

After World War II ended in August 1945, the base's mission shifted to peacetime training. It was temporarily deactivated until March 1947 when it became home to the 28th Bombardment Wing flying the B-29 Superfortress.

On June 13, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower came to Rapid City to rename and dedicate the base as Ellsworth Air Force Base. The renaming honored Brig. Gen. Richard Ellsworth, who commanded the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. Ellsworth had died along with 23 crew members earlier that year in a plane crash near Newfoundland, Canada. 

As the world moved into the Cold War, so, too, did Ellsworth AFB. The base became home to B-52 Stratofortress planes, to a Strategic Air Command mission and to intercontinental ballistic missiles under the 44th Missile Wing.

In 1986, Ellsworth AFB converted to the B-1B Lancer Bomber, which it continues to operate under the 28th Bomb Wing. In addition, Ellsworth AFB is now home to the MQ-9 drone ground control station and the U.S. Air Force Financial Services Center.

Read a more detailed history of Ellsworth AFB on the Black Hills Knowledge Network.

Published in Home
Thursday, 10 March 2016 00:00

Igloo Remembered As Prairie Utopia

A 21,000-acre swath of rolling prairie in Fall River County stands mostly vacant now, but in the 1940s, '50s and '60s Igloo became the county's center of post-Depression prosperity as the nation's war machine built up its munitions stores, reports South Dakota Public Radio

The Black Hills Ordnance Depot -- located in southwestern South Dakota due to low humidity, a railroad and some congressional maneuvering -- sprang up in 1942 to provide employment to whites, Native Americans from nearby reservations and African Americans in what is described as a harmonious, neighborly community. Early on, when men were overseas during World War II, women filled many of the jobs. 

As many as 6,000 people once worked at the ordnance depot, where folks found both new and improved housing compared to where they came from and also a tight housing market due to the influx of workers. The Provo schools swelled with students, and commerce of every stripe provided the steadily employed families lots of leisure options. 

The Fall River communities of Edgemont and Hot Springs prospered alongside Igloo after suffering through the Great Depression. 

In 1964, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it would close the Black Hills Ordnance Depot along with dozens of similar installations around the country. Over the years, peices of the place -- from furniture to tools to equipment -- were shipped to other federal operations. 

Now, the concrete bunkers used to store munitions remain to mark the spot on the prairie that once bustled.

Read more about Igloo at

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The 28th Munitions Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base performs a crucial support role to the B-1 bomber aircraft and pilots that have been called a key piece of the nation's military efforts against terrorists in the Middle East, reports KOTA-TV

The 240 squadron members conduct detailed inspections of equipment, produce practice bombs and complete other duties. The squadron's work is the foundation of training done by the B-1 crews when not deployed on a mission. 

In 2015, Ellsworth’s 28th Bomb Wing crews dropped more than 7,000 bombs on terrorist targets in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. That would not have been possible without the work of the 28th Munitions Squardron. 

Read more about Veterans and Military Affairs on the Black Hills Knowledge Network


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The B-1 bombers housed at Ellsworth Air Force Base are called the "backbone" of the U.S. military's air fleet and a "mainstay" in the ongoing wars in the Middle East, reports the Washington Post

Headlined "The underappreciated workhorse of America’s air wars," the article quotes members of the military who have worked with the B-1, including pilots who call the aircraft "the Bone" and themselves "Bone drivers." Those sources praise the B-1's capabilities, from its endurance to its large payload, while the report notes the B-1 has been underappreciated by prominent critics, including U.S. Sen. John McCain

The B-1 has provided close air support since kicking off the Iraq war in 2003 with the shock and awe campaign in Baghdad that ultimately failed to kill Saddam Hussein to the current fight against the Islamic State in Syria in Iraq, during which the B-1 is credited with driving the terrorist group's fighters out of Kobane, Syria, and Tikrit, Iraq. 

Read more about Ellsworth Aire Force Base on the Black Hills Knowledge Network


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By Richie RichardsNative Sun News correspondent

In recognition of Native American Month and Veteran’s Day, the Diversity Council for the South Dakota Army National Guard has formed a Committee to Honor Native American Code Talkers from South Dakota.

According to Master Sergeant James Bad Wound, the diversity council met in March to discuss what the National Guard can do to honor Nativenative sun news American veterans.

During the brain storming, member Larry Zimmerman thought it would be nice to honor South Dakota code talkers based on some information he read about Clarence Wolf Guts, the last surviving Lakota code talker who passed away in 2010.

Once the idea of honoring the Oceti Sakowin (formerly Sioux Nation) code talkers was formed, Bad Wound and others contacted members of the community to sit on the Heritage Committee to develop the honoring of these brave soldiers of World War I and World War II.

“Honoring Native Pride and Spirit – Yesterday, Today and Forever” is a traveling exhibit which will visit Pierre (Oct. 14), Watertown (Oct. 21), Sioux Falls (Oct. 28) and will conclude at Crazy Horse Memorial on Veteran’s Day for a special ceremony with South Dakota state leaders invited to attend.

Employees, enlisted service members and veterans from the Crazy Horse Memorial, Tanka, Black Hills Area Council #695, Boy Scouts of America, Throwback Softball, Sperlich Consulting, Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, SD National Guard Museum, SD Department of Veterans Affairs, and the SD National Guard.

Native Sun News interviewed committee chair person, James Bad Wound, who has been spearheading the movement and active in all phases of the process, including visiting all nine South Dakota tribes to personally deliver invitations for tribal leaders to attend the traveling exhibit honoring ceremonies.

James Bad Wound grew up in Igloo, SD. His father was in the Civil Service so his family traveled and moved around often, eventually settling in Rapid City where he graduated from Central High School.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal member joined the National Guard in 1986 and in 2010 was sent to Afghanistan during the War on Terror.

According to Bad Wound, one of the challenges he has come across as chair of this committee has been gathering the names of the many code talkers, as these lists are still being researched.

“This is a voluntary committee, so trying to get people to work around their personal schedules of home, work, and family has been challenging. We are all very busy. And getting the information from the tribes was not easy,” says Bad Wound, “Time is a factor too. We are doing a lot within a short amount of time.”

Crazy Horse Memorial will host the final date and have a blast on the mountain at 11:11 a.m to honor veterans of all wars. Native Sun News interviewed CHM Director of Sales, Amanda Allcock and CHM Educational Outreach Coordinator, Cleve Janis.

Allcock and Janis wanted to thank Co-CEO’s Jadwiga Ziokowski and Monique Ziokowski and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation Board of Directors for accepting the invitation by the Heritage Committee to host the Oceti Sakowin Congressional Medallion Exhibit on Veteran’s Day.

“We’d like to see this as an annual event at Crazy Horse,” says Allcock.

Debbie Leber is President of the Women Veterans of the Black Hills. She is a veteran of the Cold War and works as a Liaison for Work Force Development for the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce.

“This is pretty neat to be a part of. These events are good for Rapid City, many organizations working together for a common goal is nice for our community,” says the Air Force veteran.

Leber has been working to help get the word out via the internet and social media. The Women Veterans of the Black Hills will also help to pay for food for the event at Crazy Horse.

Diversity Council member for the SD Army National Guard, Stephanie Kinsella has been active in Rapid City working with youth and the elders in her church. She sits on the Diversity Leadership Council and is married to an Oglala Lakota man.

Like many in the Native and non-Native communities, Kinsella had not heard of code talkers from South Dakota. “When the committee first met and discussed the code talker honoring, I had no idea what that was. It was way before my day. My husband gave me a brief history. I thought it was super cool,” says Kinsella.

“I have been helping with the ID tags for the family members. I’m staying really involved in the process and trying to put out different ideas. This has been a good experience with a lot of great teamwork,” closes Kinsella. Each code talker will receive a military-style ID tag for a family member in attendance to receive.

The Committee to Honor Native American Code Talkers would like to invite friends and family members of the Oceti Sakowin code talkers and the general public to attend the honoring ceremonies for the traveling exhibit.

For more information, please contact James Bad Wound at [email protected]

(Contact Richie Richards at [email protected])

Published in News

Ellsworth AFB is preparing to send its first B-1 bombers to the recently expanded Powder River Complex for training missions. According to the Rapid City Journal article, the newly expanded area, nearly four times its original size, will result in better training for bomber crews and a cost savings of nearly $23 million for the base thanks in part to not needing to send the bombers off to distant training areas anymore.

Click on this archives link to view past news articles on Ellsworth Air Force Base.

For more information on Ellsworth AFB, its history, and its present mission, check out this Knowledge Network resource page.

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As part of their Golden Coyote Training Exercises, National Guard Engineers and Danish Troops are helping to install solar panels in Porcupine, reports the Rapid City Journal.

The project hopes to bring sustainable energy to communities on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and will be part of an outdoor classroom.

For more information, visit the South Dakota National Guard Facebook page or the Black Hills Knowledge Network archive.

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The 2015 Golden Coyote Training exercise, hosted by the South Dakota Army National Guard, started Monday and will continue until June 20, reports the Black Hills Pioneer.

Units from all over the country will be participating in these exercises, as well as units from Denmark and Canada. The Canadian Army Reserve will be managing the Forward Operating Base at Custer, one of five bases operating during Golden Coyote. Canada is the only allied nation to have operated a base in the 31 years of this training exercise.

Exercises range from mock combat operations to hauling firewood to South Dakota’s Reservations,according to Black Hills Fox News. The training focuses on team and leadership building exercises and demonstrating the interoperability of the armed forces.

For more information, visit the South Dakota National Guard’s Facebook page or the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s archive.

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Major General Raymond Carpenter, now retired, was chosen last week to lead the new Commission on the Future of the U.S. Army, according  to KOTA Territory News.

The Sturgis veteran will oversee Commission staff’s daily work in assessing the size and capabilities of the Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve, as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. The commission will also examine the structure of the U.S. Armed Forces and will share its findings with Congress next year.

For more information, please visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s archive.

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A process to repair and refurbish metal using metal powder sprayed through a nozzle has been developed at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and is being deployed for use across the U.S. military and in commercial applications, reports South Dakota Public Radio

The process, in which the particles weld themselves together, uses a heated, expanded gas and emits no toxic fumes, said Christian Widener, research director for the project. The process has been used for several years to repair hydraulic lines and skin panels on B-1 bombers at Ellsworth Air Force Base. 

The cold spray technology has allowed parts to be repaired at a fraction of the traditional cost and in much less time. This allows expensive equipment to continue to be used, whereas needed repairs have caused entire pieces of equipment to be scrapped.

Now, plans are to deploy the proven technology across the U.S. military, reports the U.S. Army. SDSM&T partners with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in developing cold spray technology and other technologies. 

A key innovation has been the hand-held nozzles used to apply the metal powder.

"It only takes up a small three-foot by five-foot area and is on wheels for easy mobility for use in production, repair facilities or in the field. It can be operated by hand or by a robot, which is another unique feature that makes it the system of choice for the military," said Victor Champagne from the Army Research Lab's Weapons and Materials Research Directorate.

In addition to the pending widespread military use, the technology is available commercially from VRC Metal Systems in Rapid City, through a partnership with SDSM&T and the Army. The company has 15 employees and is expected to grow, said Widener.


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