Welcoming Home South Dakota's Finest

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Welcoming troops home has always been one of my favorite parts of this job. Seeing the joy that our soldiers feel when they are reunited with their families is truly greater than words could ever describe.


I recently had the privilege of welcoming home 50 South Dakota National Guard soldiers with the Alpha Battery 1st Battalion 147th Field Artillery. Their unit is based out of Watertown, South Dakota, and they were deployed to Eagle Pass, TX to defend our Southern border at the beginning of September.


These brave men and women were deployed to help with Operation Lone Star – an effort led by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to secure the border and stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into the United States of America. I have been to the border multiple times, and it is clear that President Biden’s policies have created a warzone. That’s why I was the first governor to send troops to the border back in 2021, and it’s why I sent these soldiers this year.


There is no one that I trust more to protect our state and nation than the members of the South Dakota National Guard. Between visiting our men and women in uniform at the Southern border and welcoming them home to South Dakota, these soldiers showed me exactly why we can trust them so much. I’d like to share just a couple stories that show the strength and bravery of our troops.


SPC Thomas Frankenhoff was recognized for his actions on static observation points along the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, TX. He observed 81 illegal aliens breach the concertina wire and ran to aid Texas law enforcement in the apprehension of 81 illegal aliens. His motivation boosted unit morale, and his actions along the concertina wire directly aided in the apprehension of 13,800 illegal aliens.


SPC Thomas Seppala volunteered to join this mission as a 68W combat medic. He served on a previous border mission with the 153rd South Dakota Army National Guard. SPC Seppala is fluent in Spanish, and he knew that his ability to communicate with illegal immigrants made him an important asset to the mission.


These are just two examples of our soldiers going above and beyond the call of duty. So many more members of the South Dakota National Guard went the extra mile to help contribute to this mission and do their part to keep the United States secure.


I was honored to welcome the members of the Alpha Battery 1st Battalion 147th Field Artillery home to South Dakota. Our soldiers and their families sacrifice so much to serve our great state and nation. I could never thank them enough for their service.


Though our soldiers are home, the fight is not over. The situation at our Southern border is still a crisis. I am continuing to work with Republican governors across the country to do all we can to help, but federal action is needed. Thankfully, President Biden is finally starting to resume work on the border security wall – but it is too little, too late. I hope the Biden Administration will open their eyes to the warzone they have created and take action to secure our nation and ensure the safety of every American citizen.