Kentucky Soldiers help in timber-haul mission to benefit National Forest, Sioux Tribe

Story by Sgt. Julieanne Morse, 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, South Dakota National Guard

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Members of the 2113th Transportation Company, based in Paducah, Ky., strap down a load of timber at Custer State Park to travel to Pine Ridge, S.D. during the South Dakota National Guard’s Golden Coyote training exercise June 12, 2012. A partnership between the South Dakota National Guard and the National Forest Service provides timber for firewood for the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The Golden Coyote training exercise provides realistic training for service members and valuable services to the public. (SDNG photo by Sgt. Julieanne Morse)(RELEASED)

CUSTER STATE PARK, S.D. – From the Soldier gaining experience, to having the forest cleaned, to Sioux Tribes receiving firewood, many gain from the Golden Coyote timber-haul mission.

The annual Golden Coyote training exercise, hosted by the South Dakota National Guard and conducted in cooperation with the National Forest Service and Custer State Park, provides a realistic training environment and valuable services to the public.

The 2113th Transportation Company, based in Paducah, Ky., transported timber from Custer State Park to Pine Ridge, S.D., June 12.

“It helps build their driving skills,” said 1st Lt. Kurt Fryberger, the officer-in-charge of the timber-haul mission with the 2113th Trans. Co. “It helps them with hauling loads on different types of terrain.”

Fryberger said their goal is to haul 70 truckloads of timber if the weather does not become a factor.

“This exercise is a great opportunity for units to tailor their training to their needs,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff Marlette, commander of forces for Golden Coyote.

To see more photos from this story, click here

The SDNG has partnered with the NFS and Custer State Park to give firewood to Sioux Tribes in South Dakota for the past six years.

The timber-haul mission helps the National Forest Service and Custer State Park.

“This mission cleans up the forest,” said Brent Foster, a timber program manager with the NFS who helps coordinate between the SDNG and the Oglala Sioux Tribe. “We don’t have to burn it up ourselves in order to clean up the forest; we can give it to them and fulfill their need for a heating source.”

Members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe benefit by receiving a heating source for the winter.

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Soldiers of the 2113th Transportation Company participate in the Golden Coyote timber haul training exercise in South Dakota, in June, 2012. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. James French)

“A high percentage of homes here have wood stoves and utilize that wood as heat,” said Dennis Yellow Thunder, the natural resources technician for the Oglala Sioux Tribe. “That helps lower or eliminate the cost of propane or natural gas bills.”

Yellow Thunder oversees even and thorough distribution of the timber to all 10 districts on the reservation. The population on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately 18,000.

Tribal members use the timber for more than just firewood

“Some wood is also used to build fences, corrals and shades,” said Yellow Thunder. “I used some last year to put up a fence.”

Marlette said, this exercise is a great testament to how we come together with the civilian public. It prepares our service members to meet homeland security missions and provide services to the public.

“The simple fact that this whole mission is about giving the tribe firewood, makes it special,” said Sgt. Alan Cruse, a truck driver with the 2113th Trans. Co. “We’re actually meeting the needs of somebody.”

To read more about Golden Coyote on the South Dakota National Guard website, click here

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