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NEWS | March 17, 2022

Son follows father, family's lineage of military service

By Lt. Col. Anthony Deiss, South Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The son of a former South Dakota National Guard Soldier is following in the footsteps of his father by becoming the newest member of the organization he once served. Connor Briest, son of Sgt. Corey Briest of Yankton, was sworn into the SDNG March 11.

Connor enlisted in the same occupation and unit his father was in 17 years earlier, as an artillery crewmember in the Yankton–based Bravo Battery (formerly Charlie Battery) of the 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion.

While Connor and Corey share a similar story to many other fathers and mothers whose sons and daughters also join the National Guard, what makes their situation different is the challenges their family has had to overcome.

Corey was severely injured in an IED explosion that also claimed the lives of several SDNG Soldiers while deployed to Iraq in 2005. Despite his injuries, Corey made a remarkable recovery. Connor, who was just a year old when Corey was injured, grew up experiencing the challenges his father and family would face in the years to come.

Despite a traumatic brain injury that limited Corey’s mobility, vision and speech, seeing his father’s resilience and call to service was a motivating factor for Connor to join the National Guard.

“I want to honor my dad, for one,” Connor said of why he joined the SDNG. “I’ve always wanted to do it since I was very young. I’m pretty excited to serve my country and follow my dad.”

“This is something he has always wanted, and we are proud to support him and the decision he is making,” said Jenny Briest, Connor’s mother and Corey’s wife. “As parents, we sat down and talked to him and wanted to make sure why he was joining, and he has very good reasons of doing it.

“Connor knows firsthand of what the sacrifice is and what comes with the commitment that he is making because this is all he has known since he was little,” Jenny added. “But Connor also sees the brotherhood of [the National Guard] and what this can do for his life.”

Connor, like Corey, joins the SDNG during his junior year of high school and will attend Basic Combat Training later this summer, followed by Advanced Individual Training after graduation next year.

While Connor said he is excited to begin his service, his plans also include attending Mitchell Technical Institute to be an electrical power lineman following his military training.

Connor is not only following his dad into the SDNG; he is adding to his family’s lineage of military service.

“Both Corey’s and my grandpas served, Connor’s step-grandpa was in the same unit as Corey, and many of our uncles also served, so we have a pretty good family line of service,” said Jenny.

Although Corey’s speech is limited, Jenny says Corey thinks it’s pretty neat Connor is in his old unit with the same occupation he had.

“Corey says he feels honored that he is joining. He’s pretty proud of him,” she said.

While Corey is proud of his son and his decision to serve, Connor feels the same about his father.

“My dad is a hero of mine, and he made one of the greatest sacrifices possible for our nation,” Connor said.