November 01, 2020
Written By: Andy Greenman
by Andy Greenman
Bret McBride was just a youngster when his family hosted a pig roast at their ranch in 1986. It was an idea his father Eddie and friend John Smitt thought to "get the city and the air base along together a little better," stated Bret.
Civilians and noncivilians met at the potluck to gather around the pig and gain a better understanding of each other. It was a success. The event continued the following years and eventually outgrew the ranch. Over the years the pig roast has been held at Camp Rapid Coyote Den, Red Rocks Golf Course and even in the heart of Rapid City at Main Street Square.
Bret has watched the event grow and ponders about his participation in the thirty-plus years of the pig roast - "I think I may have missed two of them." Bret has seen it all and took over roasting the pig from his dad a dozen years ago. At that same time a new tradition of honoring select civilians also began.
Ellsworth Air Force Base and the South Dakota National Guard began to recognize five troops each for their accomplishments in their military profession. The pig roast expanded to more than 500 military families as the awards helped the event become more popular. An event like this is really appreciated by the military and may be the only one of its kind.
"There might be a couple we don't know about, but there's not too many cities that get together with their air base and National Guard like this," said Bret.
Due to COVID-19, this year's celebration didn't involve the traditional gathering around a pig. Instead, 10 honorees were recognized on Black Hills Wire, a website that serves as an informational resource for military members and their families in western South Dakota. The public is encouraged to visit blackhillswire.com and view the award winners.
For the first time in many years, Bret wasn't able to prepare a pig for the community. But he and his family have plans to be back when the 35th pig roast returns in 2021.
"It's been a tradition and we're gonna try to carry it on and hopefully my son will keep going with it."
Ellsworth Air Force Base Honorees:
- TSgt. Amanda Ramsey, 28th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron
- SrA Thomas Karol, 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
- TSgt. Robert Carino, 28th Maintenance Squadron
- SrA Ethan Williams, 28th Security Forces Squadron
- SrA Preacher Dunbar, 28th Operations Support Squadron
South Dakota National Guard Honorees:
- Sgt. Keith Bryant, Headquarters Company, 109th Engineer Battalion
- Staff Sgt. Chase Cummings, Headquarters Company, 109th Engineer Battalion
- Sgt. Matthew Jacobs, 235th Military Police Company
- Sgt. Justin Thompson, 235th Military Police Company
- Staff Sgt. Karen Tucker, Joint Force Headquarters