South Dakota part 2

{ NOTE : This post is dealing with the trip Rhett Fleitz (aka and I took to South Dakota to speak at the 2012 South Dakota Firefighters Benefit. If you missed part 1 (the original post) then click HERE to catch up. You can also read Rhett’s take on the trip by clicking HERE  } 

Ok, so when I left you, we were heading East across South Dakota in our Spartan ERV fire truck . What I failed to mention was our Stop at the Wall Drug Store for breakfast. Of course if you’re ever been to or heard of Wall Drug, you’ll know that you just can’t do breakfast an go. This place has EVERYTHING! I really enjoyed just walking around and seeing all they had to offer. Check them out by clicking HERE .

So, out of Wall, our next stop was to be in the Capitol City of Pierre. It was another amazing stop!

Visit the Pierre VFD website HERE

Also find them on Face Book HERE

The Brothers and Sisters of Pierre rolled out the red carpet for us.

They even “toned out” over their pager system that we had arrived and for all available members to report to the station. We were honored by the turnout!

The members were understandably proud of their heritage and it showed. It showed in the excitement and willingness of their members  to tell their stories. It also showed through the wall hangings and display cases within the station.

You see, with a population of nearly 14,000 people, the Pierre VFD may be the only all Volunteer  Fire Department serving a Capitol City in the Country. At the very least, they are one of only a very few!

Talk about Pride, Honor, Tradition, Respect and Brotherhood …. these Brothers and Sisters are defining it through the job / services they provide. We told the Chief that we weren’t sure exactly “what” he (they) are doing in Pierre but they are  obviously doing something right.

We pulled out of the station and made our way up to the Capitol Building where their Memorial is located. It was a beautiful memorial that encompassed Military, Fire, EMS and Police members from throughout the State.

Sadly, 3 more names from South Dakota will be added to the wall in Emmitsburg, Md at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend coming up on October 7, 2012.

You can find the names and more information on the fallen South Dakota members as well as the remaining 82 other Brothers and Sisters from all across the Country who will be honored at the 2012 Memorial by clicking HERE .

South Dakota will add a total of 7 names to their wall as they will include 4 members from NC who perished in a plane crash while battling a wildland fire in South Dakota.

From the memorial, we continued East. I believe our next stop was in Miller, South Dakota. Again, we were humbled by their response.

The Chief, Steve Resel;  even delayed harvesting to spend some time with us!

Yea… he should have been out in the fields running a combine and harvesting beans but instead, he took the time to show us his station and visit for a bit. I of all people understand the sacrifice he made that day and GREATLY appreciate it!

Hell, I even had him convinced to take me out and allow me to run it for him for a few hours but, once again; we were way behind in our schedule and I didn’t want to put us that much farther behind (I could have run it all night …LOL)

Miller was yet another station not short of stories, Tradition and Pride! These were the type of men that I felt right at home with (as I did with all the Brothers and Sisters we met). These guys had just worked until 3 am to rebuild a motor in one of their rigs. They showed us countless items that they fabricated and dreamed up to make their operations more efficient. Like most Departments we visited, they did this on their own time .. out of their own pockets! Words like dedication, commitment and service resonate here.

My heart and mind was in that combine but my butt was back in that Spartan ERV fire truck headed farther East. It was getting late and our next stop was to be in Huron.

Huron is another combination Department and they brought both rigs out to welcome us! Ernie Scheinert (2nd from the left) also managed to make it out to meet us in person.

Again, we were privileged to spend some quality time with members of the South Dakota Fire Service who “get it”. Their staffing is a single (paid) member per station (they have 2) and one of them is at the local airport!

They even have the responsibility to dispatch their volunteer members. Yea …. whichever station is not “first due” has to take the time to dispatch the call to their remaining volunteer members before responding. The good news is that these Brothers understand what it is that they are up against and they take their duties seriously. They have a great program in place to assure that new members are well trained and familiar with each piece of apparatus and the basics of firefighting.

Our next stop was for something to eat. Rhett was getting a little “weak in the knees” and had told Bob how much we enjoy eating “local” foods. We see the “chain style” restaurants everywhere we go and often find it refreshing to hit the local places. We actually often times prefer it. Bob had just the right place.

We ended up at Manolis Grocery in Huron and we had a BLAST!

Find Manolis Grocery on Face Book HERE .

 I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place quite like Manolis. The place was full of “locals”. They sat at tables, in the middle of the grocery; drinking beers and eating while the game played on the corner TV.

Everybody was obviously enjoying themselves and conversing between tables. Of course we drew a little attention as we walked in … must have been Rhett’s hat… LOL

We made our way to the front and then back behind the bar. Yea … behind the bar to serve ourselves. You have to save the tops so they know how many to charge ya for!

While we were getting our own beers, Gus Manolis ; the owner was whipping up some unbelievable sandwiches. His wife was actually sitting behind me enjoying a night out with friends. Those ladies had us rolling in the floor! Even though it wasn’t a firehouse, this was another stop that we didn’t want to leave. TRUST ME … if you’re EVER in Huron, South Dakota (or anywhere close for that matter) you have got to eat at Manolis!

From there, our next stop would be Mitchell. Again we were humbled by the number of members who had come to welcome us. Being our last stop, it was obviously late (after 10 Im sure) yet they even had off duty members awaiting our arrival! Yea… these Brothers drove in and waited to meet us!

I was a little lost (and disappointed) when we arrived. I had fallen asleep and missed a small stop just prior to arriving in Mitchell.

I thought Gary and Bob had been saying we were going to stop at the “PORN PALACE”. As it turned out, they were saying “CORN PALACE” ….. LMAO…. no joke! Doesn’t really matter because I didn’t get to see either. If you’ve never seen the Corn Palace, you can visit their web site HERE .

So, Mitchell was a BLAST! We cut up and carried on with the guys a bit. I think they also found it amusing at how Rhett and I go back and forth with each other.

It was another Department that gleamed with Pride. I don’t think we seen a dirty rig or house during the entire trip! I feel like  they enjoyed our visit and know that we did. Their excitement picked us up for the final leg of the night.

A few hours later, we would arrive at the Grand Falls Casino and Resort in Larchwood, Iowa. Take the time to visit their web site by Clicking HERE   (or find them on Face Book HERE). This place was FIRST CLASS and helped sponsor the event by providing our rooms for the next 2 days.

We got a good night’s rest and would head out to tour the Spartan office and plant the next morning. I’ll pick up from here with Part #3 tomorrow. Don’t forget to check back in to see how it ends. **UPDATE** View part #3 by clicking HERE .

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Stay Safe and in House!

Captain Wines