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Wagner to recognize 155th with Sunday event

WAGNER -- Three months have passed since the 155th Engineer Co. returned to South Dakota, but Wagner residents are still celebrating. The community of Wagner has scheduled a recognition event for the approximately 160 soldiers part of the Rapid C...

People welcome home members of the 155th Engineer Co. following the unit's 10-month deployment July 2 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. (Republic file photo)
People welcome home members of the 155th Engineer Co. following the unit's 10-month deployment July 2 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. (Republic file photo)

WAGNER - Three months have passed since the 155th Engineer Co. returned to South Dakota, but Wagner residents are still celebrating.

The community of Wagner has scheduled a recognition event for the approximately 160 soldiers part of the Rapid City and Wagner-based unit for their service during a 10-month deployment to Kuwait.

The event will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday at the National Guard Armory, located along Highway 46 in Wagner. According to Staff Sgt. Greg Nielson, Wagner Mayor Don Hosek and the unit's first sergeant and will address attendees. Refreshments and a meal of hot dogs, brats and hamburgers provided by the Wagner Chamber of Commerce will be served. There will also be an obstacle course set up for children and live music throughout the afternoon. Nielson said event organizers are expecting approximately 300 people to attend Sunday's event.

"With our deactivation ceremony in Rapid, when we came home we never had that official welcome home event for the troops that belong to this area, as opposed to those from Rapid City," Nielson said. "So, now, we're going to be able to have one."

The unit returned home in July from supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, and its deactivation ceremony was held in Rapid City in front of more than 700 people. A celebration wasn't held in Wagner at the time of their return, as it fell over a holiday weekend.

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The 155th's most recent detachment, which deployed in August, is the second mobilization of the unit. The 155th deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Noble Eagle in 2002-2003.

According to South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, over the unit's 10-month service, 67,000 hours of work were logged and 18 members were promoted. For 101 of the 162 members, the mission to Kuwait was their first deployment and 14 servicemen had a baby born at home while overseas.

And, while the event is for the troops, it will also honor the families who made sacrifices while their family members were overseas.

"It gives our community an opportunity to thank the troops and also for the troops to thank the community for the support while we were deployed," Nielson said.

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