Veterans Day events set

Veterans Day is approaching, and with it comes a variety of events around Custer County to honor those who served the United States through military service.
As always, the centerpiece of the day will be the annual Veterans Day program put on by Custer School District Thursday, at 2 p.m. at the Armory. This year marks the 27th annual ceremony.
The program is run by the students of Custer High School under the direction of Michaela Doyle. It consists of a flag posting by the local Civil Air Patrol, patriotic songs performed by  Custer Elementary School children, a performance by the Custer High School band and choir, a POW/MIA ceremony, a dramatic reading of “I Am A Veteran” by Andrea Christensen Brett, remembrance of deceased veterans from the past year, individual recognition of each veteran in attendance by Custer Cub Scouts and sixth graders and the retirement of the flag by the Civil Air Patrol.
Guest speaker for this year’s program is Major Dean Suelflow.
Suelflow enlisted into the Active Duty Marine Corps in 1993 as 6335 Aircraft Avionics Mechanic after graduating from Sauk Centre High School in Sauk Centre, Minn.
He graduated as Platoon Honor Man from basic training in June 1994 after attaining the Company High Shooter qualification, Company High Physical Fitness qualification and the only Water Survival Qualified recruit in the entire training Brigade and was therefore meritoriously promoted to PFC. He served as the Avionics Maintenance section leader of 30 aircraft in the Marine Corps as the AV-8B Harrier Avionics Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge for VMA-211 Marine Attack Squadron as well as a door gunner on CH-46 assault helicopters for multiple overseas deployments including Operations Southern Watch in Iraq.
In 1999 Suelflow left the active duty and transferred to Company C, 1-194th Infantry in the Minnesota Army National Guard (ARNG) and served as an infantry squad leader and a year later transitioned to armor due to unit transformation and served as an M1A1 tank gunner and later tank commander with Company C, 1-194th Armor for another year.
In 2001, Suelflow left the Minnesota Army National Guard and interstate transferred to the 1085th Medevac Company of the South Dakota Army National Guard and served as 67F Avionics Mechanic on Blackhawk helicopters.
He was commissioned in 2004 through the South Dakota Officer Candidate School Program in Sturgis and attended flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala., later that year. Upon return from flight school Suelflow accepted a reduction in rank to Chief Warrant Officer One in the 1085th Medevac Company as an aeromedical evacuation pilot, then served as a maintenance test pilot, aviation maintenance officer, maintenance test pilot examiner, instructor pilot and was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer Two. During this time he also deployed to Nicaragua with newly transformed Company C, 1-189th Medevac Company for a three month tour building schools and hospitals to assist the local population.
From May 2011 to May 2012  Suelflow deployed as the maintenance officer of Company C, 1-189th Aviation Medevac Company in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his return he was promoted back to a commissioned officer in Company C, 1-189th and served as a platoon leader until his return from his most recent deployment to Iraq and Syria in 2018, where he served as the platoon leader of a forward deployed Medevac platoon deep in Syria supporting Special Operations activities.
After leaving Company C, 1-189th in October 2018 Suelflow has served as the assistant S3 in the 881st Troop Command and most recently in Joint Force Headquarters as the G3 aviation operations officer. Suelflow’s awards are numerous and include the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Reserve Commendation Medal with C device, Master Aviator Wings and Combat Action Badge to name just a few.
Dean is originally from Sauk Centre, has earned a degree in Aviation Flight Technology from Thomas Edison State University and  works for the South Dakota Army National Guard in Rapid City at the Army Aviation Support Facility as the flight operations officer/instructor pilot/maintenance test pilot evaluator for the last 20 years.
Suelflow has a wife (Nancy) of 23 years and two sons, Aiden (16) and Brandon (12) and lives in Custer.
Custer County Democrats and Republicans will once again host a social with snacks for the veterans, also at the Armory. This event will immediately follow the program at the school. The social provides veterans a time to relax, chat and share stories.
Both Custer Jr./Sr. High School and Custer Elementary will host a flag retirement/raising ceremony at 8 a.m. on Veterans Day, and both schools will also host a Veterans Day lunch. The lunch at the elementary will be at 10:50 a.m., while the Jr./Sr. high schools will be at 11:25 a.m.
At 11:11 a.m. on Veterans Day there will be a ceremony that takes place at Veterans Memorial Park on Washington Street, led by Custer VFW Post 3442. The day rounds out in Custer with Custer Cub Scouts visiting veterans at Monument Health’s senior care and assisted living facilities at 4 p.m.
The Hermosa School will honor veterans  in conjunction with Hermosa American Legion Post No. 303 the morning of Nov. 11 in the commons of the Hermosa School. That school will host its own Veterans Day program that day at 2 p.m., followed by a Heroes Reception at the school at 3:15 p.m. The day will conclude at 5 p.m. with a community chicken noodle soup and chili feed at the Hermosa America Legion’s post home.
Elk Mountain School District will also honor veterans with a Veterans Day program at 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at Elk Mountain School.

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