Well, I’m not sure where to begin. This past week marked the 20th anniversary of our country being attacked on 9-11-2001. Anyone from school age on can remember that day vividly. The other day that sticks in my memory was when John Kennedy was assassinated. Both events so tragic they stay with us for a lifetime. Another image seared into my brain is the news clip of 2-star Major General Chris Donahue walking up the ramp of an aircraft, being the last man to leave Afghanistan.
Major General Donahue is the 82nd Airborne Division Commander. This image has a particularly strong meaning to me as I enlisted out of high school to be a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This division is made up of approximately 16,000 paratroopers who are on alert to jump in (parachute in) to any place in the world in less than 24 hours’ notice. It was truly an honor and a privilege to be one of the All-Americans with the 82nd.
I have a joke I enjoy saying that when I enlisted, I was 6 foot 5 inches tall and when I came out after three years of jumps/landings, I was 5 foot 6 inches tall. It always gets a good laugh and works as an ice breaker when I’m speaking.
I just want to make clear that it is not the military’s fault; that they were ordered by the Commander In Chief, President Biden, to pull out of Afghanistan. Pull out?? Hell, it was a surrender! Has any army or, in this case, a military force, as all branches were deployed, ever surrendered when they had full control of the country? I think not. To the brave military members who served in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past 20 years, let me be clear: You did your job fighting on foreign soil so we could be free the past 20 years. Not a single terrorist attack happened in the 20-year time span. All of us citizens owe a debt of gratitude to you for your selfless service to this great country. Thank you.
Now, let’s talk about something else super patriotic, shall we? Shortly after Gov. Noem took office, she initiated a program called the Fallen Heroes Bridge Dedication Program. This program dedicates state bridges within our borders to those service members who fought and died, giving the ultimate sacrifice to this country. South Dakota has more than 3000 killed or missing in action heroes.
On Saturday, 9-11-2021, I had the privilege of accompanying our Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden to Thunder Hawk, South Dakota to dedicate a bridge located on the North Dakota border and Highway 73. The two fallen heroes were 1st Lt. Herbert Lyman, who was shot down and killed while piloting a P-51 Mustang over France on June 17, 1944, and his brother, Tech Sergeant James Lyman, who was killed in action (KIA) in Italy on March 16, 1945. Each of these heroes received a purple heart medal and T. Sgt. Lyman also received a silver star for uncommon valor in battle.
In addition to Lt. Governor Rhoden, Chief Warrant Officer Halsey Hall was there representing the South Dakota National Guard. Both of these gentlemen gave remarks along with our State Veteran Field Service Officer Will Huffmon. Representing the family were two nieces of the fallen heroes. One niece, Addie Holm, lives in, and has been a long-time resident of, Custer, South Dakota. It was really nice being all the way up by the North Dakota border and seeing on the agenda Addie addressing the crowd. Her main point was how important this bridge dedication was to the Lyman family and, as she said it, finally bringing closure.
To nominate a fallen hero, please go to https://veterans.sd.gov/resources/fallen%20heroes%bridges%20dedications/bridges%20heroes.aspx
I know, an unbelievably long web site address, but in there you can pull up an application form to submit for your fallen hero. Remember they had to have made the ultimate sacrifice to our great country or be missing in action.
Tim R. Goodwin, District 30 Representative