Story by Maj. David Page, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — In July 2013, 2/75th Recruiting and Retention Battalion Marketing section was researching ways to host Military Appreciation Nights during football and basketball games at various high schools throughout the commonwealth.
Borrowing an idea from the Indiana Guard, the team purchased traveling ‘National Guard’ jerseys for both football and basketball teams.
“Indiana was only using the jerseys in basketball, but we felt it would work well for football, too,” said Master Sgt. Bradley R. Harlan, marketing NCO for 2/75th.
That fall, the first football team donned the jersey and won. The next week, the next team had the same result. After ten regular games and one playoff game, every team that wore the jerseys won.
“It was an honor to wear them.” said John Petett, head football coach Monroe County High School. “I felt like we were representing more than our school on that Friday night, and it was extra motivation for the team.”
Besides the great results for teams, the jersey was seen by approximately 11,000 people by the end of the football season. Plus, images of the jerseys were seen in numerous photos in the media, helping the Guard build awareness throughout the commonwealth.
The basketball uniforms didn’t yield the same winning results for all of the teams, but they were worn in 25 games during the 2013-14 season, with more than 20,000 fans seeing these uniforms. The jerseys also achieved similar media coverage as the football jerseys, further helping the Guard show its involvement in the community.
“Without the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and Julian Tackett, the KHSAA president, allowing the schools to use these for Military Appreciation nights, this would have not been possible,” said Harlan.
With the success of the Guard jersey program, R&R Battalion is in the process of purchasing two more sets of the football jerseys for the 2014 season.
“The football jerseys are already reserved for every Friday night game for the upcoming season,” said Harlan.
Story by Maj. David Page, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — In mid January, Kentucky Army Aviators will open a new 126,000 square foot, $25 million Army Aviation Support Facility on the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.
The facility will have 18 aircraft bays that will feature the latest in aviation support to include in-ground vaults in the hangars to house data hubs as well as lubricants, air and water ports to assist in maintenance of the rotary-wing aircraft.
“The new facility will be four times the size of the current AASF,” said Chief Warrant Officer Ryan S. Thompson, Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor, Joint Forces Headquarters. “Plus, it will have bays to house our aircraft, which will keep them out of the elements, therefore helping us reduce corrosion by as much as 80 percent and reduce the risk of lightning strikes on the flight line.”
Besides the increased size, the new AASF is registered as a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Silver certified facility by the US Green Building Council. Silver is the second of four levels in LEED, and it is based on points for positive environmental aspects of a project. This certification recognizes the Kentucky National Guard for its environmental stewardship in the selection of building materials, methods, and energy savings initiatives.
“Our approach to savings on this facility is multi-faceted,” said Col Steven T. King, Construction and Facilities Management Officer. “Firstly, we are constructing a building that is tightly sealed, well insulated, and durable to minimize energy demand.
“Secondly, through sustainable design building principles, we are using the site orientation to take advantage of natural day-lighting, high-efficiency artificial lighting, active and passive solar strategies, geothermal heating and cooling, occupancy sensors and programmed thermostats to schedule HVAC shut down during periods of non-occupancy, such as nighttime and non-IDT (inactive duty training) weekends. This effort enables us to focus on minimizing our energy operating costs. ”
Another contributing factor to helping with the LEED certification is the solar panels that will be installed on the facility. These panels will help provide up to 80 kilowatts of energy, which will provide approximately 20% of the energy requirements for the building.
“Although we have 80kW of photovoltaic energy that we will produce, our goal is to add additional panels in the future to make this facility a truly Net-Zero energy building,” said King. “This means that we will generate an amount equal to or greater than the amount of energy we consume.”
Beyond the positive environmental impact, the facility was designed with the “user” in mind.
To that end, Col. King and his staff reached out to Col. Abney and his aviation team to talk about what they needed in a facility. The group then toured three other Aviation Facilities around the U.S. to gather lessons learned from those projects.
“During the tours, we looked at how each facility flowed and how we could make ours more efficient,” said Thompson. “We then worked with Chief Warrant Officer Four Larry Goode (a member of Col. King’s team) on the elements we wanted and he helped us get everything under one footprint.”
What resulted from the tours and the collaboration was a design that was not only functional for all units to be housed there, but some small touches to help the Soldiers be more efficient. For example, the component support shops that provide maintenance functions are located immediately adjacent to the hangar floor, which enhances the overall logistical flow of the entire operation.
Another critical feature of the new building will be the fire suppression system in the hangars. In case of a fire, the system will fill the hangar up to 8’ of foam within 10 minutes to dowse a fire.
“We are looking forward to moving into the new facility,” said Thompson. “This has been a long-time in the making so it will be a great day when we cut the ribbon.”
As for the existing AASF, it will be receiving a new tenant as well. The Combined Support Maintenance Shop, also located on Boone Center, will move to help provide more space on the post.
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Kentucky Guardsmen went about their usual routines during annual training periods this spring and summer in a variety of places. Soldiers and units use this time to ensure they are up to the task of doing their specific job.
For State Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley, it is also an opportunity to ensure those Soldiers are doing the right thing and are being taken care of by the Kentucky National Guard.
“Visiting Soldiers during annual training and any other training event gives me the opportunity to talk to and observe Soldiers at their best and address any issue they may have,” he said. “It is also to let them know the senior leadership is proud of what they are doing, and appreciate the sacrifices they and their families make.”
Chumley said there were times in the past that Soldiers never saw their command sergeant major or even knew who he or she was. He refuse to go back to that time, because put simply, it’s his job. As the Kentucky Army Guard’s top enlisted advisor to the adjutant general, that job is an important one for the nearly 6,000 enlisted Soldiers serving in the commonwealth.
“I am their eyes and ears in Frankfort, I represent them to the leadership of this organization, and I cannot do it without getting out here and talking to them.”
Annual training periods provide the ideal chance for command visits and Chumley visits as many as the schedule allows. From Kentucky’s Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center to Camp Atterbury, the 42-year military Veteran is out asking what the Soldiers think of the food, if they are up to date on their training requirements and if they take advantage of the benefits available to them. He said it is his chance to find ways to improve the Kentucky Army National Guard.
The visits are well received as Soldiers gather to visit with Chumley, meet a member of the command staff and share their feelings about training and the Kentucky Guard..
“I think its great that the sergeant major comes out to see us, check on us and show that he cares,” said Pfc. Lawless with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry. “It tells us leadership just doesn’t sit at a desk somewhere, they come out here and learn from us like we’re supposed to learn from them. It shows good leadership and I appreciate that.”
Chumley often asks how many of the Soldiers would consider giving more than 40 years to their country. Not that he expects very many to raise their hands, he knows he’s talking to a future command sergeant major and the future of the Kentucky Guard.
“One of the things I like most about coming out here is that I get to tell them how proud I am of them and thank them for what they do. Every time I get around these young Soldiers it reenergizes me and reminds me that I am here for them, and because of them.”
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard introduced its newest top enlisted Airman in a change of responsibility ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, July 11.
Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Moore became the state’s sixth state command chief master sergeant, succeeding State Command Chief Master Sgt. James Smith.
“It is important to maintain continuity, but it is just as important to welcome change,” said Moore. “I look forward to serving with Sgt. Maj. Chumley in making the Kentucky Guard truly a purple organization.”
Moore, previously the 124rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Enlisted Manager has served the Kentucky Air Guard since 2000 after 17 years in the active duty Air Force.
With 32 years of total service, Moore now becomes the highest ranking enlisted Airman in Kentucky, a role Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini called, “One of the most important roles in the Kentucky Air National Guard.”
“He serves as my eyes and ears among the troops,” said Tonini. “I have been unbelievably fortunate and blessed these past four years having Chief Smith at my side.”
“Chief Moore’s qualifications for this job are unquestionable. he’s excelled at every level and his leadership and wisdom have brought distinction upon himself, the enlisted troops and his unit.”
The state command chief master sergeant is an integral day-to-day member of the adjutant general’s senior staff, overseeing the needs and concerns of the state’s enlisted corps and is a vocal advocate on their behalf.
Moore said the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard has a history of great leadership and he plans to continue that in his new role.
“I will be a 360 degree leader. I will lead south to individuals under my care. I will lead north to work with those that have authority over me. I will lead east and west impacting my peers, but most importantly, remain vigilant in maintaining my own compass, needle center.”
Smith has served in the role since 2010 and will retire after nearly 40 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard.
In an emotional farewell, Smith said he was humbled to be included in the short list of the state’s command chiefs.
“I wish Jeff all the best. It has truly been an honor to have served and a privilege to have been a member of the Kentucky Joint Forces Headquarters staff.”
Honor recognizes achievements from 2011 to 2013
Unit now the most decorated airlift wing in the Air National Guard
By Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 123rd Airlift received its 16th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award during a ceremony here yesterday, continuing a long tradition of excellence that has made it the most decorated airlift wing in the Air National Guard.
The achievement is nearly unprecedented in the history of the entire U.S. Air Force, noted Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general, who observed that only a handful of Air Force units of any kind have earned 16 AFOUAs.
“This is indeed a very historic day,” Tonini told a crowd of more than 1,000 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen who attended the ceremony at Louisville Male High School. “It’s a great day to say to other folks wherever you live that you’re a member of the very best airlift unit in the United States Air Force.
“As adjutant general, I’ve had the honor of visiting you in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve witnessed how tough and efficient you are at doing your jobs. I’ve seen for myself the professionalism and pride of the men and women of this unit, both here at home and overseas. From Bagram to Kyrgyrzstan, Quito to Haiti and even in places like Antarctica, you are absolutely outstanding in every way.
“You absolutely deserve this recognition, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Tonini then presented Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, with a streamer representing the latest honor. Gorter pinned the red-white-and-blue ribbon to the wing’s guidon as audience members clapped loudly.
The 123rd Airlift Wing received its 16th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service from Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2013, according to the award citation. During this time, the wing engaged in a full spectrum of missions at home and abroad, deploying 611 Airmen to 29 locations in 13 countries for an aggregate total of 46,150 days.
Among these deployments, the wing’s Airmen set records for C-130 mission-capable and departure-reliability rates while airlifting 4,900 tons of cargo and 12,300 troops across U.S. Central Command as the lead unit at an expeditionary airlift squadron based in the Persian Gulf.
The wing also facilitated the short-notice movement of a Patriot Missile Battery and 300 soldiers to Turkey in response to the Syrian Civil War, and supported numerous special operations missions to kill or capture the most wanted enemies of the United States.
Thirty of the wing’s special operations Airmen received high-level commendations during the award period for coordinating more than 3,800 combat missions and hundreds of air-to-ground attacks that resulted in more than 1,750 enemy killed in action.
The wing also deployed 25 Airmen to Afghanistan in support of Agriculture Development Teams 3, 4 and 5, fostering the creation of a sustainable agriculture economy and promoting business opportunities through a women’s-empowerment initiative. One project boosted income for 1,400 Afghan raisin vineyards by 50 percent in less than 6 months.
The 123rd Airlift Wing has one of the most diverse mission sets in the Air Force, Tonini said. In addition to its primary mission of providing C-130 intra-theater airlift, the unit also has one of only two full-spectrum special tactics squadrons in the Air National Guard and the Air Guard’s only Contingency Response Group.
The special tactics unit includes parachute-jump qualified emergency medical technicians who specialize in personnel recovery, and combat controllers who deploy undetected into hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance.
The Contingency Response Group was created as a self-sufficient unit that deploys to inoperative airfields to establish air cargo operations during times of crisis or military contingency, enabling the rapid influx of troops, cargo and disaster-relief supplies.
The wing’s other unique mission sets include an Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight; a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package; and two Critical Care Air Transport Teams that specialize in providing medial care for critically injured servicemembers who must be transported aboard military aircraft en route to more capable medical treatment facilities.
“We are the single most diverse airlift wing in the Air Force,” Tonini noted. “Some airlift wings can boast that they have one of those additional missions. A couple might even be able to say they have two. But nobody can come close to saying that they have all five.”
The 123rd Airlift Wing received its first Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in 1970.
Commentary by Capt. Andi Hahn, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Officer
Capt. Andrea Hahn was the commander of the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment during its deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba 2013-2014. Following are her thoughts about her former unit, its mission and the public affairs Soldiers that served with her. The 133rd helped change the public affairs culture at GTMO during its deployment, and as a result changed the focus from the detainees to the service members who served there.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — I’ve spent several years with the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, starting off in 2008 as a young team leader and executive officer before eventually given the honor of being commander over a year ago. That’s when the 133rd was mobilized for deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I was so excited to take on the mission, especially with this detachment as I love what this unit stands for. Public affairs, as anyone who knows me can tell you, is my passion.
I knew about half of the Soldiers in the unit when I took over and the other half, I was enthusiastic to see what they had to offer and the skills they would bring to the mission.
Joint Task Force Guantanamo: what a mission that was! For those that don’t understand what we did there and think we only scuba dived and sailed, the 133rd MPAD played a crucial role in one of the most controversial and high visibility public affairs missions in the world. It was nothing like Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other over seas deployment; I would know, I’ve been there, done that. So have a lot of the soldiers in the unit. This was a mission that people around the world do not agree with, do not understand, but love to talk about and document. Which is where we came into play; the 133rd MPAD had to tell a story that people didn’t want to hear about unless it was negative.
I believe I speak for most everyone in the unit when I say that our mission at GTMO was the most challenging of our military careers. It was also one of the most memorable.
Our mission there was twofold: we were split into a media relations team and a command information team.
The command information team, lead by Capt. Brian Pennington and Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson, was undoubtedly the best the Joint Task Force has seen to date. Using her outstanding creative skills and experiences throughout the field of public affairs, Sgt. 1st Class Vaile-Nelson redesigned the base publication — The Wire — making a streamlined product unprecedented by any team before them. Her team produced 37 issues while covering more than 500 events and writing approximately 400 stories highlighting the service members and missions of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Broadcast pieces and a social media presence was non-existent prior to our wave and under the initiative of Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Hiler, the command information team produced weekly videos and podcasts for the base commander to distribute to both internal and external audiences.
Sgt. Will Bolton perfected his skills as the illustrious copy editor of The Wire and acted as editor in the absence of Sgt. 1st Class Vaile-Nelson, proving he is capable of producing an outstanding magazine and managing a successful production team. Spc. Lerone Simmons was voted “motivator of the week” by the JTF sergeant major. Spc. Simmons also facilitated a media visits, including the prestigious Russian Today. He was always praised for his positive attitude, smiling face and became one of the most published journalists on the team.
The command information team was amazing in their coverage and the quality of their publication! I saw what they could do with their skills and not only was I constantly impressed with their product and professionalism, I was proud they were representing the Kentucky National Guard.
The media relations team facilitated more than 40 media tours to the detention camps escorting 114 journalists from 72 international and domestic news outlets. This included highly profiled broadcasts by 60 minutes, ABC news, the BBC and Al Jazeera, just to name a few. They also managed a 24-hour media operations center for 8 weeks of military commissions babysitting 66 news agencies covering the pre-trial hearings for the accused 9/11 five co-conspirators and the alleged USS Cole Bomber.
The media relations team made a lasting impact on the joint task force when we were able to convince our command that engaging in interviews with foreign and domestic journalists, no matter what the story angle, was pivotal in highlighting the transparency part of the mission statement. It took months of persuasion, but eventually the JTF Leadership allowed never before interviews with medical personnel and guard force that resulted in negative headlines literally changing to positive ones overnight. Halfway through the tour, we started to see a shift in tone and angle in certain stories that had never been seen before. Journalists were now allowed to talk to personnel and show faces and attribute a name which made their stories more legit and human.
Most important, the media started to highlight the work the troops did at GTMO instead of the treatment of the detainees.
When the brass at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Southern Command saw this tonal shift, they continued to allow the troop to do interviews and interact with media under one condition: they had to attend our media engagement workshop. It soon became mandatory that any new person stationed on the island attend our training before ever speaking to reporters. We trained more than 800 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and even some civilians, on the proper ways to interact with media.
Our curriculum that we developed specifically for GTMO is still being used today.
The Kentucky Soldiers in the media relations team were a cut above the rest. Spc. Cody Cooper is probably tired of hearing how he was the youngest and least experienced of the team, but he was a shining star and the media adored him. He and Sgt. Cody Stagner tag teamed giving VIP tours of the infamous Camp X-Ray. If you google news stories about GTMO, you will see lots of pictures of both Cooper and Stagner as they were the media darlings of the tours. They represented our team and our state with the utmost professionalism and I know they gained a lot of knowledge and experience working with so many news agencies in such a short time.
Staff Sgt. Rebecca Wood was my right hand through the whole tour and progressed leaps and bounds from when I first met her just over a year ago. She proved to be a natural when handling international journalists and she shined while teaching media engagement classes too. She left a lasting impression with anyone she worked with and reporters always wanted to interview her and highlight her army career. She, too, can be seen on several broadcasts from our tour.
All in all, the mission the 133rd MPAD performed at GTMO was beyond a success. These Citizen Soldiers all achieved both personal and professional goals while stationed there and I’m so proud to have served with them. This is a unique bunch who think outside the box and produce quality and creative products that are unmatched by any other pubic affairs professionals out there.
As to the future of these great military public affairs troops, they have done amazing work they can do in a short nine month tour overseas. They are now under the command of Maj. Carla Getchell, an outstanding officer in her own right, and I can only imagine what they will do long term for the Kentucky National Guard. The talents, skill sets and professionalism is already there; they just need to right guidance to pave their way to continued success, both for themselves and for the Kentucky National Guard.
No one will ever love a command or a unit as much as I have loved this group and I will miss being their leader. I encourage them to be a good example for others and continue to be the rock stars of the Kentucky Guard.
To find out how to get into the public affairs field contact Maj. Steve Martin, email: email@example.com
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
CYNTHIANA, Ky. — In January, 2009, Soldiers with Charlie Company, 201st Engineer Battalion were conducting route clearance patrols in eastern Afghanistan. Along Main Supply Route Alaska, truck Charlie 11 struck an improvised explosive device.
During a ceremony in Cynthiana, July 12, Staff Sgt. Andrew Wiglesworth received the Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained during the attack.
“This is a great feeling, I’m very honored first of all. I’m humbled and extremely proud to give my all in service to my country,” he said.
Wiglesworth was one of five Soldiers riding in the truck when it was hit. Both he and Spc. Todd Phillips were medically evacuated to Forward Operating Base Salerno and treated for their injuries.
Staff Sgt. Randy Morris was the truck’s commander on the mission and still serves with Wigelesworth, now with the 149th Vertical Construction Company. Morris said as the lead truck during missions, their vehicle was the first to encounter anything in the roads.
The deployment was a rough one for the engineers Morris recalled, as they were in Afghanistan during a surge of violence that saw a large increase in enemy activity and IED attacks. He said there a few Soldiers left in the unit from that deployment and that the award is good for the younger Soldiers to see, especially such a good leader like Wiglesworth.
“This is a great thing today for our unit, I’m really proud of him,” said Morris. “He’s a really good guy. No one deserves to get blown up, but I mean he definitely deserves this award.”
“It’s not that we think it’s funny, but we talk about it now and can bring a smile to our face, because we know we did the right thing and we did our job the right way so we all could come home.”
Wiglesworth agreed that the incident is not something they should think about all the time, but is glad to still have the same friends and Soldiers around him today.
“We reflect back on that day pretty often and we are extremely fortunate,” said Wiglesworth. “Our vehicle was blown in two, and we had injuries, but minor injuries. I guess the grace of God was with us that day.”
Lt. Col. Doug Clay, battalion commander of the 201st was on hand to present the award and called Wiglesworth a great overall person, Soldier and leader.
“It’s not everyday you get to award someone a Purple Heart,” he said. “This is such a proud organization here, a great company. One that’s just getting back from another deployment to Afghanistan, so that tells you something about him and his family. They embody the selfless service we always talk about.”
Wiglesworth has served in the Kentucky National Guard for seven years, all with the engineer battalion. He was previously an intelligence analyst for the active-duty Army from 1988-1994.
“I joined the National Guard in 2007 when I heard my hometown unit had been identified for deployment,” he said. “Even after a 13-year break in service, I felt as though I still had something to offer the military.”
Wiglesworth was awarded the Bronze Star and three Army Achievement Medals from the 149th’s recent deployment. He has lived in Cynthiana all his life outside his military service and is a lieutenant in the Cynthiana Fire Department.
Soldiers of the 201st deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008. Before they returned home in 2009, they were credited with disposing of more than 200,000 land mines and IEDs. For their hard work and sacrifice, the 201st was awarded the Valorous Unit Award and the first Governor’s Outstanding Unit Citation.
Staff Report, photos courtesy of 201st Engineer Battalion
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Soldiers of the 201st Engineer Battalion were out in force for annual training this past May. More than 500 Guardsmen will have put their skills to the test at the conclusion of the training cycle in July. Across Eastern Kentucky, the engineers assembled to continue construction projects at Hidden Valley Training Site in Powell County, Kentucky and the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center out west in Greenville, Kentucky.
“The 201st is known as the Workhorse Battalion,” said Maj. John Barger, operations officer for the battalion. “We strive to conduct tough, realistic training in austere environments, and the 2014 training year has been no exception.”
At Hidden Valley, road improvements were the primary tasks. Gravel was delivered by the 118th Haul Platoon and laid down by Soldiers with the 207th Horizontal Engineer Company. According to the units, this year’s work opened up hundreds of acres of the site to future training.
“We can’t give enough accolades to our Warhammer and Land Shark (207th and 118th) Soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Spencer, Training NCO, Det 1 207th and Squad Leader, 3rd Platoon, 207th. “They’ve worked so hard for the last two annual training periods on this road project…closing the loop on this road is one of the biggest successes achieved solely by our units.”
In Southern Kentucky at the Harold L. Disney Training Site in Artemus, members of the 577th Sapper Company prepared for a scheduled three-week rotation at Fort Polk, Louisiana next year. The combat engineers conducted a variety of training exercises to improve their overall effectiveness as a unit.
“We have finally put it all together and working well as a team,” said Pvt. Gregory Bowen, a Soldiers new to the unit. “Our teamwork, communications, and even our marksmanship, all of it ties into one. It’s a lot of information to take in and it’s a lot of movements to bring together. It started off really slow, but by the end of it, we all finally came together as a team.”
Barger said the continued mission of the engineers in Eastern Kentucky to ensure they are ready for any response locally or nationally.
“The 201st has proven its worth in many local & national emergency response missions to include the West Liberty storm damage, Hurricane Katrina, and many other emergency response missions,” he said. “These projects have increased engineer experience with all manner of vertical & horizontal maintenance & construction, and increased our readiness to provide proficient engineer troop construction capabilities when called to support disaster & emergency response missions in our communities, the commonwealth, and region.”
By Senior Airman Joshua Horton, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Chief Master Sgt. James Smith struggles to collect his thoughts as he gazes at thousands of military patches lining the walls of the 123rd Airlift Wing Operations Building.
“There are a lot of memories in here,” he finally says, looking over a collection that covers every inch of wall space in one room of the Aircrew Flight Equipment Section and spills into another. “It isn’t so much the patch, but the people who gave us these patches. There are a lot of people I remember.”
Smith, who will retire today as the Kentucky Air National Guard’s state command chief master sergeant, started the collection more than 30 years ago. It is believed to be the largest displayed collection of military patches in the world.
“A lot of them are unit patches, which means that they are directly related to a unit,” Smith says. “Some of them are just commemorative patches that people wore — morale patches or things like that. There are also a number of patches that were associated with pilot-training classes that made up their own patch, as all pilot classes do.”
Master Sgt. Del Brumbaugh, an aircrew flight equipment technician, says the collection is “a conglomeration of any military facet,” including every branch of the armed services and the U.S. space program. “It’s all services, and it’s multinational,” adds Brumbaugh, who has been a large contributor to the display.
The collection began with the nominal idea of placing a single patch on the wall.
“It started in 1982,” Smith recalls. “At the time, I worked in the life support section with my brother. We went to Denmark, and they gave everybody a patch. I just somehow stuck in on the wall. Through time, we’ve had literally hundreds of people contribute to the collection.”
As the collection grew, Smith and other curators created a set of guidelines for new accessions.
“We tried to establish some ground rules for collecting the patches,” Smith says. “The number one rule is that we never pay for any patches. We trade for them. We might barter in some way, or people just donate them to us.
“Each patch is different,” Smith says. “That’s another one of the rules. We have tried in a lot of ways over the years to catalogue these patches. Some of them that have unit designations are easy, but some of them that are just a picture of something make it difficult to catalogue them. What we decided to do is put them together just by visual recognition. It may say the same thing and be the same unit, but there is a visual difference in each patch. “
Brumbaugh, who recently contributed the 3,001st patch to the collection, says the project has now become a passion of his own.
“There are just some really awesome patches out there,” Brumbaugh says. “Some of them are a little off-color, no two are alike, and some of them really speak to the unit’s history and mission. Every patch has a story. There are a lot of units that harbored my blood, sweat and tears. The good times, the bad times, the good deployments and the rough parts — there are patches here that reflect that.”
“I made a comment to Chief Smith,” Brumbaugh says. “I said, ‘Before you retire, we’ll break 3,000 patches.’ It’s a patch I gave up out of my own personal collection. I’m absolutely humbled by the amount of time that it took us to get to this point. It’s an absolute labor of love from Chief Smith. He’s the ultimate curator of this. We have him to thank for what we have here.”
Smith’s retirement ceremony is scheduled today in the Base Annex.
By Staff Sgt. Vicky Spesard, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 123rd Airlift Wing’s annual Family Day will kick off here Sunday afternoon with a wide range of events for people of all ages.
Scheduled activities include a classic car and bike show, a C-130 static display, and tug-of-war and corn hole tournaments, according to Maj. Robert Geary, event coordinator. Child-friendly activities include a bounce house, slide, obstacle course, petting zoo, pony rides and a bicycle safety course.
Many of the children’s activities will take place in air-conditioned tents, which will provide shelter in the event of inclement weather, Geary added.
Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd Airlift Wing, called Family Day a “tremendously important event” because it gives Airmen a chance to celebrate the essential support provided by family members.
“Our families are the ones who make the greatest sacrifice when we deploy or travel for work; our families are the ones who provide the stability we need in our homes, families and communities when duty calls us away,” Gorter said. “Family Day is a small ‘thank you’ to each of our families. We truly couldn’t perform our mission without their support.”
The day’s events will begin with a brief address from Gorter, who will welcome visitors, followed by lunch provided by the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, potato salad, baked beans and cookies will be on the menu, Geary said, and popcorn will be available throughout the day.
An Army-Air Force Exchange Service store will offer a variety of items like televisions, gaming consoles, clothing, toys, military gear and sporting goods, while service providers like the Red Cross, Department of Veterans Affairs and safety vendors will provide information and demonstrations on home and personal safety.
Live entertainment is scheduled throughout the day from the Allen Lane Band, featuring country and southern rock, and a high school group known as BCB and Company, which will perform golden oldies, Geary said.
A silent auction also will be held, with proceeds to benefit future Family Day activities through the Key Volunteer Group, which is co-sponsoring this year’s events along with the Office of Family Readiness and the Yellow Ribbon Program. Auction winners will be announced at 3 p.m.
On-base parking will be available for family members. The event is not open to the general public.