Mitchell native Adam Herrmann was sitting at home on his couch in Black Hawk on Sunday night when he got a call from a soldier he served with in Afghanistan.

His buddy asked him, “What news have we been waiting for for 10 years? What news can you imagine would make your day?”

“That I won the lottery?” Herrmann responded. “The least expected thing that crossed my mind is Osama bin Laden is dead.”

He has been busy answering congratulatory calls since. “My text messages are flying from my fellow soldiers and friends.”

Herrmann, a member of South Dakota Army National Guard, was responsible for training the Afghan National Police for eight months in 2008.

Herrmann’s personal reaction to the news that American forced killed bin Laden played out in houses across South Dakota.

More than 5,000 state residents have served in the U.S. global war on terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. About 4,500 of them have been from the South Dakota Army National Guard, with another 600 or more from the Air Guard. Regular members of the armed services push the number higher.

A total of 33 military members with South Dakota ties have died in the war on terror, 28 in Iraq and five in Afghanistan.

Herrmann said he wouldn’t be surprised if there was more activity, more fighting between the coalitions and the Taliban in the next three to four months.

“We know that this doesn’t end the war on terror, but it’s definitely a huge morale boost.”

Kurt Hackemer, professor and military historian at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, shares Herrmann’s caution in declaring the war on terror over.

“It’s nothing more than symbolically important. This isn’t going to stop al Qaida. He’s been marginalized out of the al Qaida leadership and decision-making apparatus for a long time,” he said.

U.S. embassies and military facilities around the world have been put on heightened alert for potential terror attacks, according to news reports.

“It certainly raises the possibility of reprisals. We’ve cooperated with Pakistan on drone strikes, which have been so unpopular there in the public perception,” Hackemer said.


But Herrmann hopes it brings some relief and closure to those affected by 9-11.

His own reaction is mixed.

“It’s a lot to digest the emotion and my feelings,” Herrmann said.

Lt. Col. Reid Christopherson, executive support officer for the South Dakota Air National Guard in Sioux Falls, also finds it difficult to pinpoint the emotions news of bin Laden’s death evoke.

“To say happy, no, it’s more somber. There’s probably every range of emotion,” said Christopherson, who is attending an Air Force convention in San Diego. “It’s taken 10 years to pinpoint where he is. There’s a certain level of satisfaction. But happy may be too flippant to describe it.”

Members of South Dakota’s congressional delegation wrote statements praising military members’ efforts in pursuit of bin Laden.

“The world is safer today thanks to the brave and determined efforts of our military men and women. The chief architect of 9/11 has been brought to justice for his plot that killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans,” U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem said. “This should send a clear message to any others who wish to do harm to the American people or stifle the freedoms we enjoy.”

Sen. John Thune said: “I commend our intelligence community and military personnel for pursuing this mass murderer and delivering justice.”

Gov. Dennis Daugaard also issued a statement: “After nearly ten years, justice has been done. We owe our thanks to the brave men and women who serve our nation overseas, including those who have served from here in South Dakota.”

Some of those military members soon will be home. Soldiers from the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade stepped off of a plane onto U.S. soil Thursday at Volk Field, Wis., after spending one year deployed to Afghanistan.

The soldiers spent the past year operating as an Area Support Group command for the Kabul Base Cluster, improving security and base infrastructure of U.S. and coalition military installations throughout the capital of Kabul.

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