19th annual National Guard Picnic wraps up

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The 19th annual National Guard Picnic has wrapped up.

NewsCenter1 staff were busy providing meals to more than 400 service members that attended the event on Wednesday.

“We’ve been doing this for so many years, and we love doing it,” said NewsCenter reporter Anya Mueller. “Troops from all over the U.S., Denmark and Canada — they’ve been training here, in South Dakota, in the Black Hills, for the past week and a half. And they still have a few days left, but we like to throw this picnic just to tell them ‘thank you.’

During NewsCenter1’s live broadcast from the picnic, Mueller spoke with Lt. Kevin Moffat, of the 41st Territorial Battalion Group in Canada, about his experiences during the 35th annual Golden Coyote.

“It was a great ten days,” said Moffat. “I really learned a lot, and I think a lot of us did too … The one thing about this exercise that really hit home for me, and I think it did for a lot of people, was the realism. And realism, that breeds success because it increases readiness.”

Moffat says the training is important because it unites international units, allowing them to enhance both their technical ability to work together, and their comraderie.

“The training is very unique, as are the weather systems. Working with the United States National Guard was also a pleasure,” said Moffat. “They brought a very unique perspective to the table. And also the consolidation, it shows the solidarity of allies in NATO, between Canada, of course, a longstanding ally with the United States and the Danish Home Guard from Denmark.”

According to Col. Jeff Norris, who acts as the Mission Commander for the Golden Coyote, the exercise goes beyond just the National Guard, “We partner with our local folks from the Ellsworth Air Force Base … also the Forest Service, Wind Cave National Park, the state of South Dakota with Custer State Park and all of those entities that we work with on a daily basis.”

He says the exercise is vital for preparing service members to perform operations both overseas and right here at home.

“All this training ramps up locally,” said Norris. “We can deploy overseas, but we can utilize the tactics and techniques and procedures that we learn here to apply to the state active duty missions like blizzards, floods, you know, things like that, that are local.”

NewsCenter1 is happy to show their support and gratitude for those who serve and protect us. Join us next year for the National Guard Picnic, and stay tuned as we continue to showcase the work the South Dakota National Guard does for the community all year round.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News