The 216th Fire Fighters ready to be deployed to Romania; Gov. Noem says “We’ve got their back”
RAPID CITY, S.D. – South Dakota Army National Guard honored the 216th firefighting team with a Deployment Ceremony Thursday, before their departure for a year-long federal deployment to Romania.
Governor Kristi Noem, Mayor Steve Allender and Major General Jeff Marlette spoke during the ceremony.
“It’s one of the responsibilities that weighs heaviest on me is any time we need to deploy soldiers, our airmen,” Noem said. “These firefighters are going to be gone for close to a year. And they will be going to Romania, which is an incredibly important partnership with us within NATO. So, we’re grateful that they serve. We also know that their families will face challenges while they’re gone because there’s always a hole in their hearts while their member is overseas serving, but we’re grateful that they do this. Today, it’s incredibly important for me to be here and to let them know we’ll be praying for them and that we’ve got their back.”
Photos of the Deployment Ceremony:
“We’re deploying with the 216th firefighter command,” Lt. Christian Trainor, commander of the 216th Fire Fighter Unit, said. “We’re going to be overseeing three units from Texas and one from Boston. And we do everything from firefighting to making sure everything’s up to code for buildings and electrical, everything like that.”
The commander of the unit says that this is part of a constant rotation to ensure that people aren’t deployed for too long.
“Also just working with other countries and making sure that we kind of know what they do,” Trainor said. “They know what we do, and there’s that shared understanding of if we have to help them out in any way or they have to help us, they know how we operate, we know how they operate. When it comes to countries that we’re allies with, that’s super important because if you all of a sudden need their help or they need your help, you have to know how they do things.”
The unit will report to Fort Bliss, Texas for two weeks for additional training before deployment overseas.
“We have three main missions in the Guard. One is to be prepared for federal missions such as this one at very short notice, be able to step up and deploy to go do that,” Maj. Gen. Jeff Marlette of the South Dakota Army National Guard said. “And then we have our state mission, which we do on a regular basis, and then we have a state partnership. So this is one of our three primary missions. These gentlemen are ready to go”
History of 216th unit deployment
This is the fourth deployment for the 216th firefighters, this time to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
The unit supported Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, Operation Enduring Freedom 2011-2012, and service in Romania and Bulgaria in 2017 to support Operation Freedom Sentinel.
“In [the] South Dakota Guard, we’re constantly deploying units and we’ve had units deployed all over the world, you know, actually since 9/11, we’ve had units deployed virtually almost every single day since 9/11,” Marlette said. “So our guardsmen get tapped a lot between our state and federal missions to step up.”