News: South Dakota National Guard changes command
Story by Staff Sgt. Chad Carlson
South Dakota Army and Air National Guardsmen welcomed their new commander at a change of command ceremony April 2 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City.
Maj. Gen. Timothy A. Reisch, of Howard, will serve as the adjutant general and secretary of the new Department of the Military.
Reisch succeeds Maj. Gen. Steven R. Doohen as adjutant general. Doohen, became adjutant general in 2007, and had intended to retire at the end of former Gov. Mike Rounds' term, but agreed to stay on temporarily at Gov. Dennis Daugaard's request.
"The Adjutant General prepares our National Guard soldiers and Airmen to go to war and respond to natural disasters at home. Tim Reisch is one of the most-solid, talented and honest people I have ever met, and there is no one better to lead our National Guard," Daugaard told the audience.
Reisch thanked Daugaard for the appointment as both the 21st adjutant general and as secretary of the Department of Military.
“Thank you for the trust and confidence that you have shown in me,” Reisch said. “You can count on me to maintain the high standards and the reputation that has been earned by the South Dakota National Guard over the years. I will work very hard to build an even brighter future for this organization that I love so much.”
Reisch then gave examples of how the South Dakota National Guard has come to the aid of its state and nation over the years. He started with numbers dating back to 1904, stating that South Dakota ranked third in the nation for the number of Guardsmen per capita.
“I think it goes to show, that even in the earliest days of the National Guard, the patriotism of the people of the Midwest, specifically in South Dakota,” Reisch said. “On June 21, 1916, the South Dakota National Guard, which was organized as the 4th Infantry Regiment, was mobilized in its entirety for the Mexican Border War.”
Reisch added that less than a month later, Gov. Norbeck ordered that another regiment of infantry Soldiers be organized in anticipation of the United States entry into World War I.
“The SDNG served with great distinction in World War II,” Reisch said. “Called in November of 1940 and February of 1941 we furnished 2,263 officers and men to the Army of the United States, who served in both the Pacific and European theaters. In the end, South Dakota National Guardsmen served in 21 countries during World War II.
“Following World War II, we would redefine ourselves as an institution of the highest caliber. The South Dakota Air National Guard was founded by Medal of Honor winner, Joseph J. Foss Sept. 20, 1946, with federal recognition of the 175th Fighter Squadron. In that same year, the Army National Guard reorganized as the 196th Regimental Combat Team, called up for service in the Korean War on March 1, 1951. So both the 175th Squadron and the 196th Regiment were activated for the Korean War.
“There was little use of the National Guard during the Vietnam War, and some observers of military history will tell you that because of the limited use of the National Guard, that nation’s support of that war probably diminished much quicker than it would have normally,” said Reisch.
He also gave specifics on how active the South Dakota National Guard has been over the past two decades saying that 644 South Dakota National Guardsmen from seven units served in Desert Storm and since Sept. 11, 2001, 577 Army Guard soldiers from eight units have served in Operation Enduring Freedom.
An estimated 1,000 South Dakota Air National Guardsmen have served in Iraq, 300 in Saudi Arabia, 300 in Turkey, 50 in Kyrgyzstan, and lesser numbers in Korea, Germany, Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Spain, Italy and Africa.
“He also said 2,812 South Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers from 21 different units have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“In reviewing these numbers it occurred to me that we have deployed twice as many Soldiers and Airmen in the wars of this past decade, than we did in World War II,” said Reisch.
Reisch then reminded the audience made up of both Army and Air National Guardsmen that the stakes are high.
“Tragically, seven of our National Guard soldiers have been killed since the fighting began. The sting of their deaths serves as a constant reminder of how high the stakes of war are for us.”
He said the South Dakota Army and Air National Guard are at the pinnacle and he would put them up against any state in the nation and know they’d compete favorably.
“Never in our history has the National Guard been more equipped, more competent or more heavily relied upon than they are today. We’ve been at war now for more than nine years, and the soldiers and the Airmen of the South Dakota National Guard have distinguished themselves time after time after time.”
Reisch, who has been secretary of the state Department of Corrections since 2003, is a 32-year veteran of the SDARNG. He began his military career by enlisting in the National Guard in his hometown of Howard in 1978. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1980, became first lieutenant in 1983, captain in 1985, major in 1992, lieutenant colonel in 1998, colonel in 2002 and brigadier general in 2009.
Reisch, who has master’s degrees from the University of South Dakota and the United States Army War College, is a former commander of the Huron-based 153rd Engineer Battalion and the Rapid City-based 109th Engineer Group.
He was named the first Commander of the 109th Regional Support Group in 2007 and was named Assistant Adjutant General-Army in May 2009.
Prior to becoming State Corrections Secretary, he served for 17 years as Miner County Sheriff. He served in the South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association, instructed the D.A.R.E. program in Howard, Carthage and Canova Elementary school systems, and was nominated the D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year for eastern South Dakota in 1998.
Reisch concluded by thanking his family and recognizing that he’d never had made it to this point in his career without their support.
Reisch's father, Amos, served in the SDNG and was mobilized during the Korean War. Both of the adjutant general's sons, Tim and Trevor, returned in September from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan with the SDARNG’s 211th Engineer Company (Sapper).
Reisch then thanked his wife, Anne, for the tremendous support she has given him all of their years of marriage.
“I can tell you without question that I would not be here today were it not for your tremendous support,” Riesch said.
They have five children: Terra, Tim, Trevor, Tamara and Taylor.