Tribute to the Troops Program

tribute_troopsCUSTER, SD — Ellsworth B-1 Aviator Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Carignan will be the featured speaker at a Tribute to the Troops Program, Honoring Those Who Have Served Since 9/11 at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12 at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum.

Carignan, who currently serves as the 28thOperation Group deputy commander at Ellsworth, will talk about his recent combat missions against ISIL.

The program is presented in partnership with the Black Hills Veterans Writing Group. Erin Dreis who serves in the SD National Guard will share her experience in Afghanistan. Dreis lost two platoon members to suicide and has since dedicated her energy to the development of veteran peer support. There are reports that the suicide rate for veterans is as many as 22 a day, with the highest rate of suicide occurring within three years of their return to the civilian life.

Also speaking at the event and sharing their experiences in Afghanistan will be Retired Major Bob Liebman, USAF, a weapons system officer aboard a B-1B bomber, and Army Specialist Branden Stackenwalt who was injured in combat in southern Afghanistan.

According to SD Secretary of Veteran Affairs Larry Zimmerman, South Dakota has more than 400 troops deployed; 360 from the Ellsworth and others from the Army and SD National Guard. Since 9/11, more than 21,000 South Dakota veterans have served their country.
This event is sponsored by Operation Black Hills Cabin, the SD Air and Space Museum and Black Hills Energy. The mission of Custer-based Operation Black Hills Cabin is to offer a week respite in the Black Hills for qualified combat-disabled veterans so that they can reconnect with their immediate family. Since its inception in 2011, veterans and their families from 28 states have stayed at the cabin.

Operation Black Hills Cabin was inspired by Tom Brokaw, who on the Oprah show, encouraged the audience to remember veterans and to thank them for their service.

Woodrow Wilcox


The public is invited to attend this free event and learn about the lives of our veterans as we thank those who have served our country.

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