South Dakota Military Bases
Military Bases in South Dakota include Ellsworth Air Force Base and Fort Meade. South Dakota has population of a little over 800 thousand people. South Dakota is home to the Black hills national forest and Mt. Rushmore.
Map of Military Bases in South Dakota
History of Military Bases in South Dakota
Ellsworth Air Force Base
Ellsworth Air Force Base has performed a variety of critical functions during our nation’s history. It all began in the 1940’s when the government recognized the need to expand its military training and security sites across the nation, a move that was typical during that period of global unrest. They selected a beautiful area in South Dakota, just a few miles from the city of Rapid City. This camp provided top-notch training to the American soldiers of World War II, training thousands in flying, navigation, and shooting. This base was only intended to last as long as the war, so it temporarily shut down in 1947. But with the Cold War just around the corner, it was soon re-commissioned and re-activated in just a year later.
Although Ellsworth AFB was established during World War II, it didn’t find a name that stuck until the mid-1950’s. While returning from a training exercise in Europe, Brig. Gen. Richard Ellsworth was killed in a tragic plane crash along with 22 other men. Just a few months later, the current President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, renamed and dedicated the base in honor of Gen. Ellsworth and in remembrance of the great tragedy.
The base maintained critical supplies throughout the Cold War, such as large aircraft’s and military weaponry. But as the Cold War drew to a close and the Berlin Wall came down, America’s needs changed, and Ellsworth AFB changed as well to suit those needs. After undergoing massive renovations in the 1980, this base transformed into a modern Air Force base with a large aircraft maintenance facility. During the upcoming years, this base’s functions and patrons changed and evolved until it got where it is today.
Ellsworth AFB is still up and running, playing a critical role in both military strength and the US economy. Experts have estimated that the military is the largest employer in this base’s region, and the second largest employer in the state of South Dakota overall. The men and women who serve and train there do so honorably provide safety and support for the American people.
Fort Meade began as a military post in 1878, and continued to function as such until the end of World War II. Since that time, its purpose has changed, but its core values remain the same. Rather than being a place to house US soldiers who will one day become veterans, it is the site of a VA Health Care Network which serves those who have already fulfilled their military duty. This network’s area of service extends beyond South Dakota’s borders, crossing state lines into parts of Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. From its beginnings as a military post to its current function as a health care facility for veterans, Fort Meade has proven to be a patriotic part of our nation.