Platte, Salem, Winner say goodbye to Guard instillationsSD National Guard relocating six units across the state.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
PLATTE — The people of Platte said goodbye Saturday to an institution that has served the community for 56 years.
About 50 community members attended the South Dakota Army National Guard Re-Stationing Ceremony at the National Guard armory in Platte as they bid farewell to the DET 2, 155th Engineer Company.
Similar ceremonies were held in Salem and Winner Saturday, as the South Dakota Army National Guard relocates six units across the state in order to save money.
The Platte and Winner units will relocated to Wagner and Rapid City; while the Salem unit will relocate to Yankton.
The decision to relocate the units, made in April, is the result of federal budget cuts and U.S. Army restructuring. Any unit with less than 55 members lost federal funding for maintenance of armory buildings causing the relocation of six units in South Dakota.
As part of the consolidation, the state Army National Guard will also reduce its current force of 3,300 soldiers by 258 part-time and 19 fulltime positions by Sept. 30.
During the ceremony in Platte, South Dakota Army National Guard Major General Timothy Reisch spoke about the closing of the armory and re-stationing of the Platte Company.
“This weekend we have the dubious honor of paying our final tribute,” Reisch said. “I want to make one thing very clear, the decisions to close these armories have nothing to do with the level of community support or how these units have served.”
Reisch said the National Guard is continually in a state of change and unfortunately this is one of the changes that needed to be made.
“I cannot remember over the course of my career when there wasn’t change in the Guard,” he said. “It’s happened over and over again, and it will continue.”
“We aren’t going to go away but we will continue to evolve and change and serve this great nation like we always have,” he added.
Reisch called small-town armories like Platte the bedrock of the South Dakota Army National Guard and it was with great sadness to see this company relocate.
“Our organization is full of small town Guard units that have produced big time leaders, we look to Platte for continued soldiers to come and serve in our ranks,” he said.
During the ceremony Brenda Bultsma spoke on behalf of the community of Platte.
“It is with much sadness that we say goodbye today,” Bultsma said.
“The Guard is a good source of supplement income for Guard members and the community for many years. We wish you well and want you to know that you and your families will always have our support.”
Reisch ended his remarks with a message to the people of Platte letting them know just because the Guard unit won’t be stationed in Platte any longer doesn’t mean they still won’t have an impact on the community.
“You can continue to rely on the Guard to do things in the communities,” he said. “If there is something in this community that needs to be done, don’t hesitate to ask the Guard for help.” As part of the re-stationing, the National Guard will no longer use the Armory spaces provided in each town that has units being relocated.
Platte’s armory was completed in 1969 and is connected to Platte-Geddes Elementary School. The Guard was leasing a large classroom, three offices and storage space from the Platte-Geddes School District, but will become available once the unit is fully relocated in October.
The city of Salem is leasing its armory to the National Guard and will retain ownership of the facility once the unit has left.
Winner’s armory, built in 1970, is attached to the Winner High School. The space is leased to the National Guard by both the city of Winner and the Winner School District.
According to Winner School District Business Manager Laura Root, there is a preliminary plan to renovate offices now occupied by Winner’s Guard unit into wrestling facilities for the school.