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Veteran of USAF calls on our youth on Memorial Day

PIERRE -- Many from our group in high school joined "the service" upon our graduations in 1976. Our nation was out of Vietnam. The draft was over. The economy was sliding.

PIERRE - Many from our group in high school joined "the service" upon our graduations in 1976. Our nation was out of Vietnam. The draft was over. The economy was sliding.

I considered enlisting but wound up in college. There aren't many days when I don't think again about that decision.

Often I think too about the decisions by John and Tim and Jeff and Jane and Anita. They went off to basic. Then they went off to stranger places.

They made admirable decisions.

More than a few men I know are in the South Dakota National Guard.

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When called they went off to serve in the wars of the past decade fought in the strange, difficult places of Afghanistan and Iraq.

More than a few men I know served during Vietnam. Some spent months upon months there.

One carries shrapnel with him every day.

He is lucky every day. You know what I mean.

One of the smartest men I know did things there for us, the United States of America, that most of us probably wouldn't imagine.

He knew what he wanted to do if he came back.

He came back. And he did those things.

Here is a Memorial Day thought sent by Bernie Webb, 77, from Gettysburg.

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"I came to South Dakota from my native Philadelphia, Pa. as a 1957-1961 USAF radar intercept controller by accident...when I chose my base of choice a radar site at Gettysburg, Pa....which turned out to be located at Gettysburg,S.D. It was the first time in my life I could see 20 miles in 360 degrees at the radar tower steps.

"I was then assigned to the remote-isolated (foreign duty service) radar site at Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit ) Canada in the NE corner of Canada's Arctic. At that time the local Inuit native people mostly looked twice their age due to lack of coordinated social and medical needs...mostly fending for themselves.

"The large airport runway was 8,600 feet by 200 feet with a large side ramp for (Strategic Air Command) KC-97 mid-air refueler aircraft SAC had on constant 15 minute runway alert 24/7. After I left the 926th AC & W Sq. on June 1,1961 when I was honorably discharged and returned to my wife, Diana, at Gettysburg, S.D., I later learned the 926th was closed down about Nov. 1, 1961 and the site was de-constructed quickly.

"The SAC unit at the Frobisher Bay airport was also closed two years later too in 1963. The local Inuit people which had possibly six rural group villages all moved into Iqaluit to provide them all social and health benefits (and they are) now running their own local regional government with the able of the Canadian government.

"The World War Terrorists and their state sponsors-supporters require 24/7 alert and a strong USAF remains a much-needed national security need. Conventional weapons systems, like Predators, can now hit targets within one-inch...which delivers a deadly impact on the terrorists.

"I encourage recent high school and college-university grads to join the USAF and keep doing so. God bless you all for doing so."

To all, thank you.

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