By Master Sgt. Charles Delano, 165th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
GARDERMOEN, Norway — Airmen from the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing and the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing transported 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers to an airfield outside of Oslo, Norway, Sept. 23 as part of Operation Noble Ledger.
A total of three C-130H Hercules aircraft airdropped 110 paratroopers and performed an engine-running offload of an additional 20 Soldiers to a drop zone in Rena, Norway.
Noble Ledger tested the cohesiveness of about 6,500 U.S., German, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch soldiers in the field. The multinational cadre is part of a larger 13,000 member NATO Response Force that conducts humanitarian and armed conflict missions throughout NATO countries.
The 82nd Airborne’s mission for the exercise consisted of seizing an enemy-occupied zone and holding it for 24 hours until reinforcements arrived, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Dave Flynn, a pilot with the Kentucky Air Guard.
“The airlift portion of Noble Ledger is important because it provides the Army with realistic logistics for delivering Soldiers to combat zones,” Flynn said. “It reflects the synergy the Air National Guard provides to the Total Force.”
For the Airmen of the 165th and 123rd Airlift Wings, the exercise provided another opportunity to airdrop paratroopers into an unfamiliar drop zone. The aircrews conducted previous airdrops in September as part of a re-enactment of the World War II paratrooper assault known as Operation Market Garden.
“I am thrilled to have participated in the two airdrops in the Netherlands which honored the World War II paratroopers and also for providing air support for this important NATO exercise,” said Air Force Capt. Alan Ratliff, a Georgia Air Guard pilot.
Story by Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FRANKFORT Ky. – Led by an unwavering passion to strive to always be a better person, one female Citizen, Soldier and Police Officer, continues to dedicate herself to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to the Kentucky National Guard, and the Kentucky State Police.
Newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Cassandra Jo Mullins graduated Officer Candidate School at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Sept. 27, becoming one of 30 new leaders for the Kentucky Guard.
Mullins protects the Commonwealth of Kentucky in more than one way; as a Guardsman and as a trooper assigned to the KSP’s Training Academy. She has served in the Kentucky National Guard since 2012 and is a 5-year veteran of the KSP.
“Being an officer in the Kentucky Guard and a trooper go hand in hand,” said Mullins. “I try to look around to see how I can make a difference by making the world a better place. I think that one person can make a big difference, no matter how small you may think you are and no matter how many hats they wear. No matter what uniform you wear, you can make a difference.”
Mullins has various inspirations in her life, to include her mother and her husband. Both people have played key roles in the woman she has become today. Her mother taught her what kind of woman she wanted to be.
“My mother was a little woman,” said Mullins. “ She was a little over 5 feet tall and a little more than 100 lbs. But the impact she had on the woman I’ve become today has changed my life forever. My goal in life is to have the same drive and determination she had during her life.”
Her husband is also a trooper with the KSP and a Guardsmen. He has always been one of her biggest motivators and he has always been her number one supporter.
“I am one hundred percent supportive of my wife’s decision to join the military and her choice of being an officer,” said Master Sgt. Tim Mullins. “Cassandra is a natural born leader. Her personality and attitude sets her up to be a perfect military leader. She is one of the hardest working and most driven people I have ever met. She is also very kind and compassionate and humble, all of which are great aspects of a military leader.”
Mullins hopes within the first year to motivate and shape female soldiers, as well as junior enlisted Soldiers, and help them reflect on what they’ve accomplished and ask what is next for them. She wishes they will always strive to reach forward in the same way she has, in order to make their communities, their state, their country and their world a better place.
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Eyes of the Kentucky National Guard were focused on 30 individual Soldiers who became the Commonwealth’s newest commissioned officers during a ceremony on the Capitol steps, Sept. 27.
After completing a rigorous 18-month training program with Kentucky’s Officer Candidate School, including a final phase at Fort McClellan, Alabama, 16 Guardsmen earned their second lieutenant gold bars and swore in as commissioned officers.
The remaining 14 Soldiers were recognized after their recent graduation as warrant officers. Kentucky’s Warrant Officer Candidate School is a five-month program that has produced technical experts for the Kentucky Guard since 2011.
Kentucky’s newest officers’ experience spans from decades of enlisted service to just a few short months wearing the uniform. Warrant Officer Stephen Plouvier from Hodgenville, Kentucky entered the military in 1985, while Fort Thomas, Kentucky-native, 2nd Lt. Sarah Powell enlisted in 2012.
Regardless of their time in service, the new leaders said their role leading Citizen-Soldiers of the Commonwealth is a challenge they are up to accepting.
“This was the next step for me to continue serving, I enjoy serving the Kentucky Guard,” said Plouvier, who felt he had progressed as far as he could as an enlisted Soldier. “Becoming a warrant was the best choice for my personal growth, to become that technical expert and to mentor young Soldiers and non-commissioned officers.”
For others such as Powell, personal growth started with raising her hand to join the Kentucky National Guard, and the commitment she made herself to get to where she is today.
“I worked really hard to prove that I could overcome obstacles and to challenge myself to become a better person,” said Powell.
Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky presided over the event held at the state capitol. Tonini congratulated the Soldiers and expressed his pride in which he called the “ready, reliable and accessible leaders of the future.”
“My charge to you is to lead our Guard forces with the resilience, the patience, the passion and the fervor you have shown to get you to this point,” said Tonini. “You are ready, now do it. You are our future.”
The newly commissioned officers of class 56-14 included:
2nd Lt. Seth Ryan Frost (Mount Juliet, Tenn.) – Kentucky National Guard Training Center
2nd Lt. Zachary Joel Hahn (Lexington, Ky.) – 103rd Brigade Support Battalion
2nd Lt. Thomas D. Hobbs (Hardinsburg, Ky.) – 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry
2nd Lt. David B. Holobaugh (Louisville, Ky.) – 1123rd Engineer Company
2nd Lt. David Douglas Keeven (Versailles, Ky.) – 103rd Brigade Support Battalion
2nd Lt. Taylor Curtis Carter Landsdale (Mt. Sterling, Ky.) – 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery
2nd Lt. Dakota Neil Lawler (Paducah, Ky.) – 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade
2nd Lt. Cassandra Jo Mullins (Hindman, Ky.) – 149th Signal Company
2nd Lt. Bradley Michael Osbourne (Louisville, Ky.) – 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery
2nd Lt. Christopher T. Porter (Morgantown, Ky.) – 149th Brigade Support Battalion
2nd Lt. Sarah Ashley Powell (Fort Thomas, Ky.) – 940th Military Police Company
2nd Lt. Hope Alexa Smith (Lexington, Ky.) – Bravo Company, 351st Aviation
2nd Lt. Sebastian Harrison Stanley (Glasgow, Ky.) – 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry
2nd Lt. Constantine Joseph Sztendera (Campbellsville, Ky.) – 299th Chemical Company
2nd Lt. Joseph Lynn Tucker (Frankfort, Ky.) – 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery
2nd Lt. Andrew McDaniel Wilson (Lexington, Ky.) – 1204th Aviation Support Battalion
The newly commissioned warrant officers of class 14-001 included:
Warrant Officer Jonathan Marcus Bailey (Lexington, Ky.)
Warrant Officer David Benjamin Chandler (Radcliff, Ky.)
Warrant Officer William Martin Cottrell (Louisville, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Brandon Wade DeArmond (Penrod, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Dustin Cade Lewis (Mount Washington, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Jessica Ann Peel (Harrodsburg, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Stephen Edward Plouvier (Hodgenville, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Orbin Scott Rudd (Frenchburg, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Robert Wayne Sewell (Verona, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Jeffrey T. Valentine (Barbourville, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Matthew Daniel Vincent (Owensboro, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Ronald James Wamsley (Denver, Colo.)
Warrant Officer Lawrence Shannon Webb (Louisville, Ky.)
Warrant Officer Jess Marius Willard (Portland, Tenn.)
Story by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, GERMANY — Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing successfully completed two NATO training exercises here Sept. 10, moving more than 107 tons of cargo and 300 passengers aboard two Kentucky C-130 aircraft as part of Operations Saber Junction and Steadfast Javelin II.
The 123rd joined with five other Air Guard units to play a key role in the exercises, which were designed to enhance the security of Eastern Europe, according to Col. Robert E. Culcasi, a Delaware Air National Guardsman who served as commander of the Air Guard contingent.
“Ask any one of the Army folk, (and they’ll tell you) it is the Air National Guard that provided the aircraft in order to get this mission done,” Culcasi said. “If they did not have Air National Guard assets on station, they would not have been able to conduct the air drops or the follow-on land missions that were scheduled for the exercise.”
The 123rd completed 19 missions, flying NATO troops and cargo more than 23,000 miles while maintaining high aircraft capability rates, according to Lt. Col. Charles Hans, an aircraft commander and chief of training for Kentucky’s 165th Airlift Squadron.
“Our C-130Hs performed admirably under the quick-turn conditions and the minimum number of maintainers we brought,” Hans said. “That was a testament to our maintenance program and the dedication of our maintainers, who worked a 24-hour operation with a crew meant for 12-hour operations.”
The maintenance crew, composed of nine Airmen from the 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, worked long hours over the course of the exercise to keep the planes flying, said Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Brown, the senior enlisted crewmember and loadmaster supervisor.
“Once again maintenance and operations came together to ensure this NATO exercise was a success,” he said. “With multiple units and countries participating, there were a lot of obstacles to overcome, but the dedication and professionalism of the 123rd Airlift Wing provided us a safe and successful exercise.”
In addition to the maintenance effort, aircrews from the 123rd performed at an exceptional level, according Lt. Col. Catherine Newell, aircraft commander for the 165th Airlift Squadron.
“This was a great experience for our aircrews, scaling up from our small, single-unit, local training formations to a multi-unit, international formation,” Newell said. “We had a number of aircrew members who had never participated in either the planning or execution of a mission this size, and it was gratifying to them to realize that they had all the tools they needed to succeed.”
Newell said the exercise was an outstanding opportunity for the Kentucky Air Guard because it added a healthy dose of realism to the unit’s routine training regimen.
“The 123rd flew large formations with other Guard units through four different countries and airdropped troops from three different nations on an unfamiliar drop-zone at night,” Newell said. “Everyone felt a fair amount of pressure given the international scope of the mission.”
Operations Saber Junction and Steadfast Javelin II were conducted as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a joint commitment of NATO allies to the security of Eastern Europe. The exercises were designed to prepare U.S. troops, NATO Allies and European security partners to conduct joint, offensive, defensive and stabilization operations, and to sustain cooperative efforts with partner nations.
The Kentucky Air Guard deployed more than 20 Airmen for the exercises, which began Aug. 31.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is the lead Defense Department agency promoting cooperation and understanding between civilian employers and their National Guard and Reserve employees.
Kentucky’s ESGR seeks career opportunities to unite employers with Service members throughout the Commonweath.
Upcoming Career Events in October include:
Manufacturer and Employee of the Year Awards Luncheon
When: October 3, 2014 — 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Where: The Seelbach Hilton, Louisville
Speakers: Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson, Mayor Greg Fischer 16 Oct Military to Manufactures luncheon
Military to Manufacturing: Get Skills to Work in Kentucky
When: October 16, 2014
Where: Gateway Community & Technical College Convening Center, Boone Campus, Florence
Speakers: Heather French Henry, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, Major General (Retired) D. Allen Youngman
Co-presented by KAM, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and Gateway Community & Technical College, this extended luncheon event focuses on our military veterans rising to fulfill the needs of manufacturers who have opportunities for engineers, managers, and production careers. This disciplined, mature and “work-ready” workforce is a natural solution to having an ample talent pipeline for the future.
Established in 1972, ESGR operates within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. The agency’s responsibilities fall into three categories: Increasing awareness of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, recognizing outstanding support of employers for their Guard and Reserve employees, and resolving workplace conflict through mediation.
ESGR seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve. For more information about ESGR, go to: http://www.esgr.mil.
Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
In an expanded tobacco-free order announced by Governor Steve Beshear on September 4, 2014, all state buildings, grounds, and fleet will become free of all tobacco products and e-cigarettes, effective on this year’s American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout Day, November 20, 2014.
Guard members and employees should note that this affects most Kentucky National Guard armories, readiness centers, training and maintenance facilities. Our three training centers will go completely tobacco-free indoors, but tobacco usage will be allowed outdoors. Those Kentucky Guard facility operations on federal owned or leased properties such as Fort Knox, Bluegrass Depot and the Kentucky Air National Guard base in Louisville are not affected. Bluegrass Station is also exempt.
While all armories will go to tobacco free indoors, outdoor tobacco use will be permitted during special events when the facility is rented by a third party.
Smoking cessation isn’t just a state thing. The Army’s message focuses on mission readiness, with the message of “Using tobacco impairs your mission readiness. By quitting smoking you can begin improving your performance right away. Do it for yourself, do it for your battle buddies, because you are a role model and important part of the United States Military.”
“Smoking is absolutely detrimental to the resilience of our Service Members,” said Savannah Caceres, Alcohol and Drug Control Officer for the Kentucky National Guard. “Research has shown that tobacco use is a no win. The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial, especially with your heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking.”
Caceres explained that the benefits of not smoking are substantial. “Within a few hours of giving up smoking, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline,” she said. “Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Also, within a few weeks, people who quit smoking have improved circulation, produce less phlegm, and don’t cough or wheeze as often.”
Caceres added that within several months of quitting, people can expect substantial improvements in lung function
“Another benefit is that people who quit smoking will have an improved sense of smell, and food will taste better,” she said.
Significant events in smoking cessation
- In 2010, Gov. Beshear made Medicaid recipients eligible for nicotine replacement therapy and tobacco cessation medications. Those who received the prescriptions or drugs would be required to enroll in counseling programs.
- In 2011, Gov. Beshear expanded the counseling services of the Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line to younger Kentuckians to improve services available to youth interested in giving up cigarettes or other tobacco products. With this change, the Quit Line began providing services to Kentucky youth ages 15 to 17 years old. Prior to this change, services were available only to people 18 and older.
- Medicaid Expansion and Private Health Insurance — When Gov. Beshear expanded Medicaid eligibility in May 2013, more than 300,000 Kentuckians gained new access to free tobacco cessation resources through the program. Additionally, the Affordable Care Act requires all health insurance plans, whether public or private, to provide comprehensive coverage for tobacco cessation. Since open enrollment last fall, more than 80,000 Kentuckians purchased private health insurance through kynect and now have resources to help them quit using tobacco.
Nicotine Anonymous (www.nicotine-anonymous.org) is a non-profit 12 step fellowship of men and women helping each other live nicotine-free lives. Nicotine Anonymous welcomes all seeking freedom from nicotine addiction, including those using cessation programs and nicotine withdrawal aids.
Quit Tobacco – Make Everyone Proud (http://www.ucanquit2.org/) is an educational campaign for the U.S. military, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. Launched in February of 2007, the mission of the campaign website is to help U.S. service members quit tobacco—for themselves and for the people they love.
Tobacco Free Kentucky (https://tobacco-free.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx) has been created to support the initiative and offers answers to frequently asked questions, select state building property boundary maps, and resources for quitting.
For more information on how to stop smoking contact:
Savannah Caceres – Alcohol & Drug Control Officer, 502- 607-1062
Shannon Horn – Prevention Coordinator, 502-607-1062
By Master Sgt. Charles Delano, 165th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, Georgia Air National Guard
EINDHOVEN, Holland – Four C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, and the 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard, air-dropped a mix of 360 U.S., British, Dutch and Polish paratroopers over fields near Groesbeek, Netherlands, Sept. 18 to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden, a record-setting Allied mission that deployed more than 30,000 airborne troops and additional ground forces in a massive attempt to crush Germany during World War II.
“It is our privilege to provide the airborne portion of this commemoration,” said Lt. Col. Chris Davis, mission commander for the 165th Airlift Wing, which is the lead C-130 unit. “It is our wish that every World War II veteran, past and present, be honored by this reenactment, and to thank the ‘Greatest Generation’ for their acts of valor.”
Among the jumpers were four Georgia Air National Guard joint terminal attack controllers from the 165th Air Support Operations Squadron and six Georgia Army National Guard soldiers from the 108th Cavalry Regiment, who jumped as part of a reenactment of the September 1944 airborne assault by 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers on Drop Zone Tango.
“It was a great experience to jump with the British, Dutch and Polish paratroopers on a drop zone that had not been jumped since the DZ was active in 1944,” said Maj. Roger Brooks, a joint terminal attack controller from the 165th. “After the jump, I was honored by the reception of the town mayor and local citizens. They were thankful for the liberation of the Netherlands by allied forces.”
A larger re-enactment involving more than 1,000 troops is scheduled for Sept. 20.
Photos by Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville honored servicemembers during the U of L-Murray State football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Sept. 6. The game, billed as Military Appreciation Day, started with a coin toss executed by Air Force Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, the Kentucky National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for Air and commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard. Recruiters from the Kentucky Army and Air Guard also set up booths featuring displays of military equipment and answered questions posed by hundreds of fans.
The Cardinals defeated the Racers 66-21.
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — When the Kentucky National Guard describes itself as a family organization, it has the proof to back it up. Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Maggard’s story is a prime example.
Sept. 12, 2014 will remain a special date for the family as Maggard was promoted to chief warrant officer three in front of friends and family, just before she swore her younger sister Logan Green into the Kentucky Guard.
“I am very proud to have my sister serving with me in uniform,” said Maggard. “She has always been an enthusiastic determined young lady, not letting anyone tell her she couldn’t do something. She moved to Florida when she was three, so I have missed a lot of the special events in her life. I hope now I can be of more support to her and watch her grow into a young leader for the Kentucky Guard as well as in life.”
“Growing up I watched my sister do so much in the Kentucky Guard,” said Logan. “I watched her go to flight school and do so many other things, so I look forward to seeing where my career can take me, what I can do and the things I can do to make myself better through the Kentucky Guard.”
Logan is a freshman at the University of Kentucky, where she plans to major in the medical field. She’s also joined their Army ROTC program. She will simultaneously serve in the Kentucky Guard as a multiple-launch rocket system specialist as she works toward becoming an Army officer after graduation.
Maggard has served in the Kentucky Guard since 1998, enlisting as a junior in high school, which Logan did as well. Maggard he currently works as a resource manager for the Recruiting and Retention command. She is also married to former Guardsman Freddie Maggard, who serves as the Kentucky Guard’s Community Relations Liaison.
“When I first joined the Guard I was just a family member who served in the Guard,” said Maggard. “Joined now by my husband who served, my brother and now sister who both serve, we are a true Guard family and happy to call the Kentucky National Guard home.”
The brother of the family, Spc. Doug Green works as an aviation mechanic with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation in Frankfort. He thinks it’s an honor for the siblings to be able to represent the military as well as they can as family.
“I am very proud to be the older brother of these two,” Doug said. “It’s great that Logan was able to transfer up here and that all three of us are together here now in the Guard.”
“On of them already outranks me, and in a few years the other will as well,” he said. “You have to be proud of that.”
Chief Warrant Officer Dean Stoops, Kentucky’s command chief warrant officer was on hand to help promote Maggard and to welcome her sister. Stoops mentored Maggard as a young warrant officer and helped guide her into flight school. He also started his own career in artillery, like Logan, and said he feels a kinship with the family.
“It’s great to able to participate not only in an official ceremony such as this, but one that is such a family affair and in particular, one that the Guard is such a big part of it,” said Stoops.
Logan said the day began a new chapter of her relationship with her sister, and recalled times spent apart.
“We didn’t grow up together, but we’re still very close and it’s nice to know that we can look forward to the memories we’re going to make now that I’m closer. I think the connection I have with my brother and sister will just get a lot closer and stronger.”
“Some of my greatest memories I have with my sister is going to get our nails done and hanging out and being sisters and having that one-on-one time that we didn’t always have when we were growing up.”
Maggard said she look forward to the day when she has to salute her little sister, but until then she wants Logan to learn from Maggard’s experiences and build upon the basic principles of family.
“This is her career and it will be what she makes of it; she can be as successful or unsuccessful as she wants to be. Know that someone is always watching even when she thinks they are not. Most importantly to always believe in herself and know she is surrounded by family and friends who believe in her, support her, are proud of her and love her.”
Logan remembered that she wanted to enlist in the military since she was four-years-old, after watching her sister leave for basic training. Both sisters recalled the Disney movie “Mulan” and how it had an underlying theme of their relationship. Appropriate that a story of a strong, independent and self-sufficient girl who goes on to become a warrior is a favorite of the two.
Both shared memorable stories of seeing each other graduate from different Army schools, but this day will certainly rank high on their lists for years to come.
“I was excited that the timeline worked out that I could be to watch my sister’s big moment and be a part of it for her,” said Logan. “And excited about my other sister coming up and my brother’s here, so all four of us are together again.”
“My own family got to introduce me to the larger family of the Kentucky National Guard. It’s such a great support system and I’m so glad to be a part of it now.”
Story by Staff Sgt. Debralee Best, 412th Theater Engineer Command
FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Reserve and National Guard Soldiers usually train one weekend a month and two weeks a year. This training is normally not done side-by-side, but two units integrated this year for their extended combat training.
The Kentucky National Guard’s 1123rd Engineer Company, (Sapper), and a platoon from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 441st Engineer Company, route clearance, came together as one unit at National Training Center rotation 14-09 at Fort Irwin, California, Aug. 2 to 22.
“We actually had planned to have three [route clearance packages]. They were going to be the third one,” said Capt. Robert, McWhorter, 1123rd Engineer Company commander. ”They were going to bring 34 folks here, but ended up only able to bring 21 so our mission had to change and this is the neat part: we integrated them with us.”
The 441st combat engineer Soldiers we integrated into two packages as drivers and gunners. The mechanics and medics were also assigned within the 1123rd in their respective areas.
McWhorter said the change of mission was good for the 1123rd.
“For us it’s good because the 21 people they had basically get pushed into our two RCPs and that actually benefits everybody so we get to work side-by-side by them instead of mission-by-mission,” he said.
The 441st Soldiers said they felt accepted by the 1123rd.
“It’s a little interesting. I’ve never actually worked with National Guard, but they welcomed us with open arms from the get-go,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Waters, 441st Engineer Company, platoon sergeant from Harrison, Arkansas. “What I like about them is they said, ‘I don’t want you to feel like the misfits because they’ve been in that situation themselves before.’”
Not only did the 441st feel accepted, but they saw the efforts made by the 1123rd for their integration.
“They accepted us with open arms. As soon as we got boots-on-ground in the box they put us in like they were one of theirs,” said U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Matthew Cooper, Field Maintenance Platoon, 441st Engineer Company, mechanic and vehicle recovery specialist, from Brighton, Tennessee. “I can’t complain. Capt. McWhorter is doing his best to make us feel at home and so are the [noncommissioned officers].”
McWhorter said he isn’t surprised the 441st was able to integrate so well. He attributes it to the cordiality of his Soldiers.
“We’re from Kentucky so that’s like hospitality 101,” he said. “They’re just honing skills they already had.”
While the units integrated well, they did have some growing pains while on missions.
“The question we had asked is, ‘hey, guys, how’s it going?’ and I think because it was [so early in the training], they said, ‘well, we’re still working it out. It’s still confusing who belongs to who, who is doing what.’ I think that makes sense. You have to build muscle memory,” said McWhorter. “When they actually showed up we had drawn 90 percent of the equipment. We were already there for a whole day and then they show up. We’re like, ‘alright, cool, all of our minds are blown. Let’s just go to sleep.’ Then we wake up and are trying to meld. So coming out here, having the couple days to set, I’d say if I asked the question again it would be a little more straight-forward to say, ‘we’re not confused because we’ve been on route clearance missions, we know who each other are now.’”
After a few missions, the units did work out the kinks.
“I think they’re becoming a team,” said Waters. “They’ve been out running mission and it always takes a few days to get to know people, understand where they’re coming from. There is always that concern your going to butt heads with people at certain points, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of that. From what I’ve seen, they work pretty decent together.”
While becoming a team is important, the training received is essential because the units need the experience.
“You’ve got two companies where 40 percent of the experienced people left. Now you’ve got 60 percent of the folks who, including me and most of my lieutenants, are new,” said McWhorter. “So, I think that’s actually a great place for us to be because we’re all learning together.”
Not only will this training help prepare the inexperienced units, but it is also helps the units learn to work with other components and other services.
“I think it’s beneficial to work with National Guard, active duty, Marines, other coalition forces, because you don’t know who you’re going to be integrated with, especially in an RCP,” said Waters. “You’ve got to be able to understand and develop relationships with all different types of military units.”
McWhorter said he also believes building relationships is important, but he thinks the Soldiers of the 441st who didn’t attend the training at NTC will be disappointed they didn’t build those relationships and attend the training during this exercise.
“What I’m looking forward to is seeing the training value of this place because I’ve heard it’s great, I’ve heard stories about it. We are at the end of a long road. I think both these units are going walk away a lot better,” said McWhorter. “Then for 441st when they go home they’re going to have a really strong RCP platoon and they’re going to benefit and the others are going to wish they went.”
But, Waters has been so impressed by the training that he is already planning to try to bring the rest of company to NTC.
“I know these guys are getting good training out here. It’s going to be good for the unit when we get back. What I’m hoping for is that we bring this training back to the 441st Engineer Company and bring back some different ideas we’ve gathered from the 1123rd and we can move forward in getting prepared for a deployment,” said Waters. “Getting better prepared for actually deployment, then hopefully within a couple years, maybe we can bring the company out here as a whole.”