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SDNG names first Native female Sergeant Major

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Elizabeth “Promise” Crawford was promoted to the rank of sergeant major in the South Dakota Army National Guard during a ceremony held Joint Force Headquarters on Camp Rapid on Thursday, November 9, 2023. She is the first female Native American Soldier to be promoted to the rank of Sgt. Maj. in the SDNG.

“It gives me great pleasure to be the first to address you as sergeant major, you are an outstanding Soldier, you’ve never disappointed you are always a hard-worker and I have a ton of respect for you. I would send my son or daughter to war underneath you any day, any time,” said Col. Phillip Stiles of Sioux Falls.

Crawford thanked her family for laying the foundation that she built her character on; love, compassion, courage, and for giving her a life that led her to join the Army. During the ceremony she presented her mother with flowers as a small token of appreciation.

“I’ve had an amazing career and I’m so glad I get to finish it here at Joint Force Headquarters,” said Sgt. Maj. Crawford.

Elizabeth Crawford Promoted to Rank of Sergeant Major in South Dakota Army National Guard
Elizabeth “Promise” Crawford was promoted to the rank of sergeant major in the South Dakota Army National Guard stands with her brother Sgt. Challenge Crawford after her promotion ceremony held Joint Force Headquarters on Camp Rapid. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Breanne Donnell)

She joined the United States Army in July of 1996 where she served 5 years on Active duty stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado from 1996-1998 and Vilsek, Germany from 1998-2001. Crawford became a member of the South Dakota Army National Guard in June 2002.

“She’s very deserving of everything she’s gotten in life and she’s worked very hard to get there, but she didn’t do it alone. With the support of her family, fellow Soldiers, those past and present, they’ve all influenced her life and helped her get to where she is today.” said Marty Reum, retired U.S. Army combat veteran and trusted mentor to Sgt. Maj. Crawford.
Crawford honored and incorporated her culture into her ceremony with a traditional flag song and opening prayer, as well as an honor song after she presented three satin star quilts in a ceremony of admiration and respect to Col. Phillip Stiles, Lt. Col. Brian Hass, and Command Sgt. Maj. Monte Patterson.

“These men have provided me with sound guidance and mentorship that I have often relied upon their expertise and advice for over 20 years, it’s to say thank you for all of the support and encouragement they’ve given me in my career,” said Sgt. Maj. Crawford.

Marty Reum explained the significance of the star quilts during the ceremony and said it’s a unique honor and token of respect to what you mean to the person giving you a quilt and with more congratulations to Crawford and what an enormous day this is for her and what this means for their people.

Crawford is from Poplar, MT and the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Indian Reservation.

“My advice is to always remember who you are and where you came from, keep yourself grounded to the earth and always carry yourself with pride and respect,” said Sgt. Maj. Promise Crawford.

She served as the supply NCO for the 147th Field Artillery Brigade, Senior Supply NCO for the 109th Reginal Support Group, First Sergeant for the 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and S4 Senior Operations Sergent for the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Crawford was recently selected to provide mentorship and leadership as a member of the Joint Staff, extending influence to support performance excellence programs, State Partnership Programs, and assist with Domestic Operations.

Crawford has been deployed three times in support of federal missions including Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan in 2013 in support of Operation: Enduring Freedom, Camp Buehring, Kuwait in 2016 in support of Operation: Spartan Shield, and Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa in 2020-2021 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

When asked what has been the crowning jewel of her career and achievements she said it was the deployment with her brother and the 196th MEB on their deployment to Djibouti, Africa in 2020-2021, it brought a lot of honor to their family that they have served together in combat.

Crawford’s military education includes the full series of NCO professional development leadership courses, including being a graduate of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. She earned an Associate of Applied Science degree from National American University in August of 2019.

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