The members of the National Guard unit "Charlie Battery" reflect on past years
To say that the South Dakota National Guard unit "Charlie Battery" has made an impact throughout Siouxland over the years, would be an understatement.
Since startup of the unit in 1968, the members have given a helping hand in tornado recovery, served overseas, and spent countless hours helping in last summers flood.
Being the last commanding officer of a unit is a big honor.
Joshua Smith, outgoing battery commander said, "We've seen alot of stuff these last two years and I'm pretty proud to have gone through what I've gone through as a battery commander."
Not only will there be a name changing for the commanding officer, but to the unit as well, a name the town of Yankton will never forget.
Sgt. Brooks Schild claimed, "Yankton loves Charlie Battery so it's kind of nice to have that."
Michael Magorian, Charlie Battery member said, "There is a lot of Charlie pride in Yankton, there is alot of Charlie pride in this unit."
Over the years, the members of Charlie Battery have donated time and effort to the Siouxland area. In 2005, the unit lost three of its members, Staff Sergeant Dan (chew-kuh) Cuka, Specialist Allen Kokesh, Junior, and Sergeant First Class Richard (shee-uld) Schild. A fourth, Corey Briest was severely injured in by the same roadside bomb. Another soldier, Greg Wagner, was also killed in combat.
Schild said, "Everyday you think of the guys you lost and the things that go on, but the way that you deal with that is you have great guys here in the unit and we support each other and there will be a tough day for somebody and you work with that and try and help them through it."
When this band of brothers returned home to Yankton in 2006, 35,000 people lined the streets to show their support.
Darrin Eichacker, new commanding officer said, "It's an honor just to be in this community to help serve them."
Unit members, past and present, received a token of appreciation. The name may have changed, but he mission hasn't. Whether fighting a flood or an enemy overseas, these members are ready for their next tour of duty.
Smith, "It's still the same group of guys, it's the same unit, just a different name. They're still going to carry the same heritage as Charlie Battery carried, that will always stay here and maintain here. It's about the community and the members of the unit that make a battery a battery."