Chris Long, a Lieutenant Colonel in the South Dakota National Guard, is following a calling of service — whether that takes him near or far.
We use the word service in many different contexts — utility services, customer service and so on. The word service was first used to describe a military career when it was used to refer to how knights in the 1300s served their courts. Today, we thank members of the military for that service, but what does it mean when we say those words to a veteran or active-duty member of the military? Chris Long is a Lieutenant Colonel in the South Dakota National Guard who has a deep understanding of the concept of service.
Answering the call
His ongoing story embodies the spirit of servant leadership in the military. Hailing from Mitchell, S.D., Chris played high school and college sports. During that time, Chris’ father was serving in the military, and would often advise his son to consider that path of service as a career. Chris resisted the call at the time, but as he got older, he found that the call became louder and clearer.
“My dad mobilized to southwest Asia after 9/11, and I was a 20-something single guy — that motivated me to enlist,” Chris said. Chris and his dad — for a brief time — were deployed to Iraq at the same time. When it comes to service, the Longs seem to have it in their DNA.
That was 2002, and after a courageous tour of duty, Chris returned to South Dakota ready to continue his calling of service. “I came back and got a full-time job with the South Dakota National Guard. I’ve worked at Camp Rapid and at Fort Meade,” he said.
So far, Chris has served his country for 21 years. Last year, Chris was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. His distinguished military career has brought him to a point where he is now teaching others how to thrive in the military. “I’m an OIC (Officer in Charge) and I’m responsible for our regional training institute, which is at Fort Meade and in Sioux Falls,” Chris said. “We conduct individual training courses for active duty, Army and Army reserve folks throughout the year. Right now we have officer candidate school going on at Fort Meade; we teach that in Sioux Falls, too.”
A Place to raise a family
Chris, his wife and their children have been calling the Black Hills home since 2005. “The Black Hills have let my wife and kids stay busy while I’ve been gone,” he said. “We’ve got a good network of friends in the area.” The Longs rely on their group of friends for support and companionship. Chris and his family are particularly grateful for the hospitality of the area, since they don’t have much family in the Black Hills.
Chris continues to serve the people around him — whether that be his family, his colleagues or his country — and his story is a prime example of what following a calling of service can look like. This brief glimpse at Chris’ life should serve as an example of how putting yourself second and using your talents in a way that leaves your community a better place, can result in an incredible life — a life of service.
Sidebar on Fort Meade
Fort Meade is a historic military base that was founded in the 1800s. This installation, located just outside of Sturgis, was active throughout that century. It was later recommissioned and now serves several roles, including housing a VA clinic and serving as a training ground for the South Dakota National Guard.
Sidebar on Camp Rapid
Camp Rapid is an installation of the South Dakota National Guard located in Rapid City. This base has its origins in WWI, and has grown and served a vital role in the defense of both the state and the nation.