Story by Staff Sgt. David Bolton, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Soldiers assigned to the 138th Fires Brigade conduct annual Periodic Health Assessments Jan. 10, 2015 at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. The 138th conducted the PHA as a self-sustaining unit which did not have to rely on the support from civilian contractors to complete. This self-sustaining capability allowed for minimal delays and saw roughly 350 Soldiers processed over the course of the three-day drill weekend. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. David Bolton)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Soldiers of the 138th Fires Brigade conducted Periodic Health Assessment examinations at the Troop Medical Center Jan. 10, 2015, at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort. Expediency was the word of the day as the 138th processed roughly 350 Soldiers in just a span of three days; a feat accomplished by implementing some unique changes to the PHA.

“Before it might take a Soldier two or three days to complete a PHA,” said said Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Deatly, 138th brigade medical operations noncommissioned officer. “Now we can push through 120 Soldiers a day. By staggering the units, we can get them through in a day or half a day, so they can get back to the training they need to do.”

“A lot of changes have been subtle, but have had a tremendous impact,” said 1st Lt. John Cebak, a brigade medical officer with the 138th. “Experience is one of those. Having medics and personnel who have done this before and are familiar with the process, facilitates a natural flow.”

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Soldiers assigned to the 138th Fires Brigade conduct annual Periodic Health Assessments Jan. 10, 2015 at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. The 138th conducted the PHA as a self-sustaining unit which did not have to rely on the support from civilian contractors to complete. This self-sustaining capability allowed for minimal delays and saw roughly 350 Soldiers processed over the course of the three-day drill weekend. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. David Bolton/ 133 Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

These implementations have allowed the 138th to become a fully self-sustaining unit. This means the unit no longer has to rely on the support of civilian contractors to assist in its medical readiness. With stations that include vitals, vision, height/weight, hearing, dental, immunizations and blood draws, this autonomy has been a boon.

“We have everything we need right here,” said Spc. Nolan Boatwright, a medic at BNGC in charge of running PHAs. “We have case managers, physicians assistants, a state surgeon, behavioral health professionals and more than enough medics to staff a PHA.”

Because the 138th does not have to rely on outside support, the medical members of the unit have had the opportunity to train in many areas necessary to the PHA mission. The ability to have this kind of lateral leeway has helped expedite the entire PHA process for the rest of the Soldiers assigned to the 138th.

“It’s a lot of cross-training,” said Deatly. “The training these medics are getting is invaluable. Any of my medics can go to any station in this process, sit down and do it.”

Deatly said the training offered the chance for the Soldiers to get more experience with the responsibilities they will need to take care of in the future as they progress in their careers. He also said the use of Medical Command’s facilities has been an extraordinary asset to their mission.

The end goal of the three-day PHA was to make sure the Soldiers of the Fires Brigade were physically fit for duty; not just on the battlefield but on the home front as well.

“The goal is to get the brigade Soldiers evaluated medically to make sure they are able to deploy if needed and to maintain the fighting force,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Pettus, the brigade surgeon for the 138th. “It’s good for the public to be aware that the Soldiers who have come through and are part of the Kentucky National Guard understand their dual role to support their country and their neighbor.”

Video by Spc. Cody Cooper, 133rd MPAD

 

Story by Sgt. Cody Stagner, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Spc. Christopher Via, a signal specialist with the 149th Signal Company, provides instruction on data transfer devices to Capt. Damien Zeigler, of the 206th Engineer Battalion, and 2nd Lt. Cassandra Mullins, of the 149th Signal Co., during signal training at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 10, 2015. The 149th Signal Co. hosted the event to provide instruction for signal operators in the brigade. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Cody J. Stagner)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The 149th Signal Company hosted their first-ever leader development workshop for the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Jan. 10-11, 2015.

Col. Jerry Morrison, commander of the 149th MEB, had the vision to provide train-the-trainer instruction that would allow leaders from all five battalions to go back to their units and teach their Soldiers and operators on the ground.

“Across the brigade, as far as communication is concerned, we found a need to sync everybody together,” said 1st Sgt. Craig E. Anderson, the first sergeant for 149th Signal Company. “So this concept gets everybody in the same room to say, ‘hey, here are some strengths and weaknesses,’ and the signal company is taking the lead because we are nothing but communications.”

For more photos, visit our flickr site here.

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Sgt. Mark Greene, Sgt. Brian Bingham and Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Sewell discuss the operation of a signal radio during the 149th Signal Company’s career workshop in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 10, 2015. As a signal-specific unit, the company has training resources and specialists for instruction on data transfer and communication instruments. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Cody Stagner)

As a signal-specific unit, the company has training resources and specialists for instruction on data transfer and communication instruments. These courses can be given over the course of a single drill weekend.

“It is not an in-depth training,” said Anderson, a coordinator who helped in the overall concept and design of the training program. “But you get to see the faces to your right and to your left. That makes you a stronger team; knowing who is in your brigade, working together to make sure others have the same capabilities you might have, and coming together for an overall stronger brigade.”

In order to build a stronger brigade, the signal company had to deal with the technical challenge of how to set up a relay station between separate units or battalions during annual training. To do this, the unit uses the Defense Advanced GPS Receiver and Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System.

“Let’s say two units are running different frequencies and need to communicate,” said Spc. Jessica Garner, a trainer in the 149th Signal Company. “After using a DAGR to set the atomic time of all SINCGARS radios, it may take a separate vehicle and connections shared with both units to relay that important message.”

Beyond synergy and basic radio skills, the company has included training on the brigade’s newly fielded Joint Capabilities Release, a friendly-forces tracking device that also allows secure messaging and data transfer.

“We are just getting into the cycle of using this platform,” said Capt. Joe Fontanez, commander for the 149th Signal Company and lead coordinator. “There are tasks involved that we’ve never really had to do before because it went from an unclassified system to classified. So we are trying to get people hands-on training to really understand this system a little better.”

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Spc. Jessica Garner and Spc. Tadd Gilmore, with the 149th Signal Company prepare a Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 10, 2015. Members of the 149th Signal Co. provided signal training during this two-day event. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Cody J. Stagner)

Bringing in occupation-specific Soldiers created an opportunity worth exploiting for the brigade. Instructors had the chance to give the attendees insight into Army career-advancing schools needed and how to progress through the ranks by taking charge of one’s own career.

“We all manage our own careers,” said Fontanez. “It’s really important for Soldiers to understand that and know how to progress through the organization to meet their goals.”

According to Fontanez, the unique training successfully promoted synergy, networking, career progression, camaraderie and profession of arms among the brigade’s signal corps.

Story by Sgt. Lerone Simmons, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Brig Gen. David Graetz gets help from family members in attaching one star epaulets to his uniform during a promotion ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 11, 2015. Graetz now serves as the assistant to the Army Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen. Donald Rutherford in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Lerone Simmons)

FRANKFORT, Ky. -Thirty-nine years ago, a young man joined the United States Navy after a friend, who had recently enlisted, suggested the idea.

“My intention when I began this journey was to just do my four years in the Navy and earn my G.I. Bill,” Graetz said.

He served as an aviation structural mechanic, then separated from the Navy after his first contract ended.

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Army Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Donald L. Rutherford, presents Army Brig. Gen. David. E. Graetz, assistant to the Army chief of chaplains as the National Guard liaison, with a stole during his promotion ceremony at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 11, 2015. The stole formally symbolizes the responsibilities assumed with Graetz’s promotion.

For more photos, visit our flickr site here.

Now, Army Brig. Gen. David. E. Graetz serves as the assistant to the Army Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen. Donald L. Rutherford, as the liaison for the National Guard.

Graetz received his promotion from Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, with the assistance of his wife Gayle, and his daughter Anna, during a formal ceremony in Frankfort, Jan. 11, 2015.

He credited God and family for his military success and presented his family with gifts of appreciation during the ceremony.

“From a very young age I knew that family was important; my mother supported my father during his years as a civil rights supporter in Montgomery, Alabama,” he said. “Even after our house was bombed several times by the Klu Klux Klan, she continued her support of her family. This is their success just as much as it is mine.”

Graetz has gone on to not only support, but also influence, his family. His son-in-law, Army Capt. David Miller, chaplain assigned to the 1120th Transportation Battalion, Arizona National Guard, named Graetz as his mentor.

“He’s the reason I joined the Guard and became a chaplain,” he said. “I’ve admired how well he balances pastoring as well as being a staff officer.”

For now, Graetz plans to continue his support of Soldiers in the Army National Guard by utilizing his position to ensure their well-being.

Video story by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Wood, 133rd MPAD

 

Remember! Celebrate! Act!

Story courtesy Kentucky National Guard Equal Employment Opportunity Office

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”

On the third Monday in January each year, Americans answer that question by coming together on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.  The day represents an opportunity to start the year off right by making a positive impact in one’s community.

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All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. —Martin Luther King Jr

Legislation was signed in 1983, creating a federal holiday honoring the birthday of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday in 1994 as a national day of service, and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort.

During his lifetime, King encouraged all citizens to pursue the purpose and potential of America. He strove to realize the dream of equality and a nation that affords freedom and justice for all.  In this spirit, the act of volunteering and helping others realize their potential takes on special significance.

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Volunteering remains a vibrant part of our nation’s fabric across generations, enriching both our communities and those who serve.

The MLK Day of Service is a way to channel King’s life and teachings into community action.   King encouraged all citizens to apply the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live—popularizing the notion of “The Beloved Community.”  In Dr. King’s Beloved Community, people and communities would be united by inclusion, shared prosperity, and peaceful conflict resolution.  In the spirit of the Beloved Community, Dr. King’s day of service is an opportunity to live out Dr. King’s life and teachings in communities around the world.

A 2013 U.S. Department of Labor report found that one in four adults donates time to volunteer organizations. Last year, 62.6 million Americans volunteered nearly 7.9 billion hours.   The estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $175 billion.

Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, who subsequent to 31 December 1992, perform outstanding volunteer community service of a sustained, direct and consequential nature. (U.S. Air Force graphic, AFNEWS/PAND)

Over the past six years, volunteering has also increased among teenagers (ages 16-19). Volunteers aged 65 and over spend more time engaging in volunteer activities than any other age group.  Working mothers continue to volunteer at a higher rate than the population as a whole.

The Department of Defense values those who volunteer. One of the ways it demonstrates this is by honoring distinguished volunteers with the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. The medal was authorized in 1993 to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Reserve components and is awarded for outstanding and sustained voluntary service to the civilian community. The front of the medal has a five-pointed star with a circular ring over each point; the star, a symbol of the military that also represents outstanding service, is encircled by a laurel wreath, which represents honor and achievement. The reverse has an oak leaf branch, symbolic of strength and potential, with three oak leaves and two acorns along with the inscriptions, “OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER SERVICE,” and “UNITED  STATES ARMED FORCES.”

If you would like to join the hundreds of thousands of people who serve on MLK Day and throughout the year, find a project in your community or register your own project so that volunteers can find it.

Go to Serve.gov for more information.

 

 

Story by Master Sgt. Phil Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Staff Sgt. Joseph Howell (right), a combat arms trainer for the 123rd Security Forces Squadron, and Senior Airman Charles Henderson, a security forces fire team member, clear a stairwell at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., as a Louisville Metropolitan Police Department SWAT Team member provides instruction during a joint training exercise Jan. 13, 2014. The training is designed to enhance cooperation and interoperability between the Air Guardsmen and civilian police officers. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Airmen from the 123rd Security Forces Squadron conducted bilateral training with members of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team here Jan. 14, focusing on tactics, techniques and procedures used to defeat an attack by armed assailants.

More than 50 Louisville SWAT members divided into teams to train with the security forces Airmen, according to Tech. Sgt. Craig Davis, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of Combat Arms for the 123rd Security Forces Squadron. The officers and Airmen then worked together to stop a simulated gunman who was firing on base personnel as part of an “active-shooter” exercise.

After the exercise ended, the Airmen and officers covered additional training areas such as building approaches, room clearing and stairwell clearing.

Davis said the training was an excellent learning experience for both parties.

“LMPD really enjoyed their time out here,” he said. “They weren’t aware of our capabilities, but they walked away confident and with a better appreciation of them, knowing we can work together in potential emergencies in the future.”

Lt. Col. George Imorde, commander of the 123rd Security Forces Squadron, hopes to conduct more bilateral training in the future to strengthen the two units’ interoperability.

“Bilateral training is not something we get to do very often, but we need to do it to establish the relationship between military and civilian law enforcement elements,” he said. “Each unit gets to share their tactics, techniques and procedures. The real benefit is the relationship-building, because there are many emergency scenarios that might occur on military installations requiring a local law enforcement response.”

One such scenario would be a real-world active-shooter incident, during which the Louisville police department’s SWAT Team would integrate with Airmen from the 123rd Security Forces Squadron to secure the installation, he noted.

“Active shooters have been increasing throughout the country, and it seems like (these incidents are) more prevalent these days,” said Lt. Brent Routzahn, the Louisville police department’s SWAT Team commander. “We came out to show how we conduct business on our side and to be on the same page with the Air Guard, so if an incident ever did happen on the base, we would be on the same page regarding how we are going to operate and be familiar with each other.”

Imorde said such familiarity can pay big dividends.

“Now, (Louisville police department officers) have seen a footprint behind our gates that they’ve never seen before. They know what we look like, they know where our buildings are, they are familiar with our property, they know who we are, and they understand our capabilities,” he said. “That’s important.

“The feedback from our military personnel was that it was invaluable training, and something they don’t get every day,” Imorde added. “Airmen attend courses to become a military law enforcement officer, and sometimes that training gets far removed from real-world application. To get this additional insight and experience keeps our members refreshed on the latest tactics, techniques and procedures.”

Master Sgt. Greg Myers, operations superintendent for the 123rd Security Forces Squadron, said his Airmen now have more knowledge they can use to enhance base security.

“What we did in this training is why people join security forces, and why people stay in security forces,” he said. “We are stronger now, and our protection capabilities for the installation have grown tremendously. All the way from the entry teams to the command-and-control aspects, if anything were to happen, we know how we’re going to work with LMPD when their officers arrive and how we will proceed. It enhances the force protection of the installation immediately.”

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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The Kentucky high school football all-star team takes the field prior to the eight annual National Guard Border Bowl in Williamsburg, Ky., Jan. 11, 2015. Kentucky defeated Tennessee 33-32 to tie the series at four wins each. (U.S. Army national Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — For the eighth straight year, the best high school football players from Kentucky and Tennessee met on the gridiron to decide the National Guard Border Bowl, Jan. 11, in Williamsburg, Ky. Held again at the University of the Cumberlands, the game is among an elite few with the National Guard sponsorship.

In front of a large crowd and ESPN cameras, Kentucky beat Tennessee 33-32 in a thrilling game that came down to the wire.  The win evens the series at four wins each.

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Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams III conducts the pre-game coin toss to start the National Guard Border Bowl in Williamsburg, Ky., Jan. 10, 2015. As one of the few high school sporting events with National Guard sponsorship, Soldiers of the Kentucky and Tennessee National Guard play important roles in the support of the game. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Kentucky’s all-stars were not favored to win the game, but rallied together as a team and never trailed. A fact Freddie Maggard, the Kentucky Guard’s community relations liaison said is the epitome of the match-up. Maggard said the game has always showcased quality coaching, but the players are the ones that demonstrate the skill and desire to win, which is fitting that they played in a game sponsored by the National Guard.

“I’m always so proud of the players,” said Maggard, a former University of Kentucky quarterback. “But on top of being football all stars, these young men excelled off the field as well. The level of coaching in high school is developing not only football players, but fine young men.”

One of those players, Brandon Jones from Hazard High School was not only talented enough to make the Border Bowl roster, but also dedicated enough to enlist into the Kentucky National Guard. Jones will attend Basic Training after graduating this summer.

“It’s pretty cool that I get to play in the National Guard Border Bowl after I just enlisted a few months ago,” said Jones. “”I’ve always wanted be in the Army and I’ve always played football, I have several family members that have served, so I figured I could keep the tradition going.”

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Kentucky’s Reese Ryan from Lexington Catholic High School is tackled by Tennessee’s Alex Ware from Eagleville High School during the National Guard Border Bowl in Williamsburg, Ky., Jan. 11, 2015. Each state brought 50 of the best high school football players of the year to the eighth annual border rivalry. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Visit our flickr site for more photos, click here.

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Kentucky’s Arien Beasley from North Oldham High School is pursued by Tennessee’s Deountario Brown from Memphis Central High School during the National Guard Border Bowl in Williamsburg, Ky., Jan. 10, 2015. The game represents the last chance for some high school players to catch the eye of college coaches as the students prepare for their next step in their education. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

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Brig Gen. Benjamin Adams III presents the National Guard Border Bowl trophy to Kentucky’s head coach, Jim McKee from Scott County High School in Williamsburg, Ky., Jan. 11, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

 

 

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general, visits with Capt. Noel Espino and his wife, Rose (left) and daughter Jasmine.  A member of the Guam National Guard, Capt. Noel Espino was seriously injured by a drunk driver 11:03 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19 2014 while visiting Kentucky for military training. (Photo courtesy the Espino family)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Another proud but tragic chapter of Kentucky National Guard history has now been written. We collectively bid farewell to one of our adopted sons and his family.

A member of the Guam National Guard, Capt. Noel Espino was seriously injured by a drunk driver 11:03 p.m., Friday, Sep. 19, 2014 while visiting Kentucky for military training. He has since undergone several surgeries and weeks of grueling physical therapy in recovery.

Members of the Kentucky National Guard joined University of Kentucky Hospital staff, health care providers, the Lexington Fire Department, the Catholic church, the local Filipino community and others to support the Espino family throughout the duration of their stay in Kentucky.

“The Kentucky National Guard really showed strength, dedication, loyalty, and support to the Espino Family,” said Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini. “It is a positive reflection of caring for our extended Guam National Guard family during a very difficult time.”

“I have witnessed firsthand the strength of this whole remarkable family,” said Tonini. “It is nearly beyond comprehension yet I believe the combination of their strong faith and military mindset prepared them well for this unforeseen period.”

Capt. Espino and his wife Rose departed Kentucky on last week to travel to the Palo Alto Veterans Medical Center where he will receive continued care there.  They left a note of gratitude, which reads as follows:

Greetings,

It’s been 16 weeks since Noel’s accident. We are happy to share with you that Noel has surpassed any initial expectation and was dubbed the “Miracle Baby” for ICU at Albert B. Chandler Hospital at the University of Kentucky. We spent Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years here and Noel, Rose and Jasmine also celebrated their birthdays here in Lexington during this trying time. Noel is moving on to a VA hospital in California to initiate his therapy.   He still has a long road to recovery ahead of him so your continued prayers are always welcome. The circumstances that we were introduced to Lexington were very traumatic and dismal, however the community of Lexington showed their true colors and were more than supportive throughout this trying time for our family. For this we are truly grateful and blessed.

 We would like to thank the Blue team, ICU team, Ortho team, Plastic team, Cardio team, Renal team and all the hospital staff that provided their expertise to the health care and needs of Noel. A special thanks to Dr. Tucker, Dr. Proctor, Dr. Dudley and Dr. Bernard.

We would like to also thank the Kentucky National Guard and 41st CST for their dedicated support, with a special thank you to BG Adams, MG Tonini, CH (MAJ) Draper and family and MAJ Grant and family. Your visits and support throughout this trying time was paramount in keeping our spirits high.

To the Catholic community of Lexington we thank you so much for your kind words of support and prayers. You shared our pain and prayed with us throughout this trying time and the Lord has answered our prayers. Please continue to pray for Noel as his journey to recovery is still long and will have many obstacles to overcome. A special thanks to Father Al, Father Norman, Father Chris, Father Noel, Father Steve, and the entire congregation and staff of the Newman Center.

 To the Filipino community of Lexington, thank you so much for seeking us out and accepting us into your family. Your family values were truly a blessing to our family. A special thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Primo Milan, Ramon and Bing and Dr. Nely for all your visits, prayers and kind words of support. Finally, to Bertha and Jack and Christine Jackson and family, our Chamorro family away from home, thank you for adopting us and making us feel at home. Your nurturing presence was a godsend.

 If we have forgotten to thank or mention anyone, please forgive us as the support shown and provided to us by the Lexington community was overwhelming and cannot be measured, but know in our hearts that we are ever so thankful for all you have done for us.

May God bless us all,

CPT Noel Espino and family

 

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Reenactors with the 2nd Kentucky Militia form a color guard for the 200th commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans in Chalmette, La., Jan. 9, 2015. The 2nd Kentucky were part of a living history encampment near Chalmette Battlefield with hundreds of other reenactors for the weekend of events. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

CHALMETTE, La. — In a sugar cane field along the meandering Mississippi River just outside New Orleans, La., two hundred years ago, Citizen-Soldiers fought along side Choctaw Indians, free African-Americans and criminal privateers, prevailing against the most powerful army in the world.

The Battle of New Orleans was the last major conflict of the War of 1812. The outcome ended the last war with England, preserved a claim to the Louisiana Territory, triggered migration and settlement along the Mississippi River and rebuilt the spirit of the American people.

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Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini escorts a wreath during the 200th commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans at Chalmette Battlefield, La., Jan. 8, 2015. Wreaths were laid by Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana at the Chalmette Monument in honor of the militiamen who fought in the battle. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

In a celebration of unity, the 200th anniversary of the battle was commemorated at the Chalmette Battlefield and nearby locations, Jan. 8-9, 2015.

January 8 was celebrated as a national holiday for years after the battle, like a second Fourth of July. And so the story goes, the War of 1812 was like a second American fight for Independence. The hastily assembled American army of Soldiers, Marines, militiamen, Native Americans and pirates won the day for Gen. Andrew Jackson. 200 years later, representatives from the motley elements of that army gathered to pay tribute to fallen ancestors and the end of the war.

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini and Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutants general of the Kentucky and Louisiana National Guard respectively, participated in a wreath laying at the Chalmette Monument. The wreaths joined those of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the British Embassy for the United Kingdom among others in a symbolic display of unity of allied nations and people from various walks of life.

“We are here to commemorate and honor the memory and service of the combatants on both sides of the conflict,” said Tonini. “Whether American, British or Native American, these sacrifices secured 200 years of peace, cooperation and friendship between our nations.”

Throughout the weekend, events honored the battle, those who fought it and the 200 years since.

“Events this week commemorate the Battle of New Orleans, but also so much more,” said John Trowbridge, historian for the Kentucky National Guard. “We honor all those involved, especially the militiamen from Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana, the predecessors of today’s National Guard.”

To see more photos, visit our flickr site here.

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Reenactors participate in a living history encampment for the 200th commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans in Chalmette, La., Jan. 9, 2015. The multi-day encampment hosted large numbers of spectators and school children in a variety of events including a reenactment of the last battle of the War of 1812. (U.S. Army national Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

In addition to the National Park Service event at the battlefield, hundreds of reenactors set up a period encampment in St. Bernard Parish.

Tonini was on hand to recognize the members of the 2nd Kentucky Militia Reenactment Group with a signed proclamation from Gov. Steve Beshear naming Jan. 9, 2015 as 2nd Regiment, Kentucky Volunteer Milita Day in the Commonwealth.

“It’s important to recognize these individuals that keep history alive,” said Trowbridge. “They are stewards of the Nation’s past, providing a glimpse into a bygone age to honor those who fought and sacrificed in the War of 1812.”

The living history event also included bivouac tents, artillery pieces and a reenactment of the battle.

 

 

 

By Senior Airman Joshua Horton, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

141123-Z-DI861-001KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Amy K. Quimby was appointed the 123rd Airlift Wing’s new Airmen and Family Readiness Program manager Aug. 24.

She has been involved with Air National Guard family programs for 21 years as both a volunteer and as the Airmen and Family Readiness Program manager for the Illinois Air National Guard in Peoria.

 

Quimby, whose office provides a broad range of services to assist Airmen and their family members, said she is excited to begin her work in Kentucky.

“I want to take it to a higher level than where it has been in the past, bringing my knowledge from the Peoria Air Guard here,” she said.

Quimby noted that her office provides everything that an active-duty Airman and Family Readiness center does.

“We have by-law programs with the transition assistance program and the Yellow Ribbon reintegration program,” she said. “We provide information and resources on several other topics that affect our Airmen such as relocation, financial, stressors or just general life issues they might have going on.

“We also encourage the Airmen to take care of their wingmen,” Quimby added. “If an Airman doesn’t want to come get resources, we encourage their wingmen to come get it for them. The financial piece is more than informational referral. We’ve actually been trained by the Air Force in personal financial readiness to work with the Airmen on budgeting and spend plans. We can sit down and create an action plan with an Airman and do a follow-up on a monthly or quarterly basis based on what the needs are.”

The ultimate goal of the Airmen and Family Readiness Program is to build healthy, resilient Airmen by connecting them with information and resources that will positively impact their lives, she said.

Quimby can be reached at (502) 413-4240/4241 and via e-mail at amy.quimby@ang.af.mil.

 

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Photos courtesy Bluegrass Challenge Academy and Appalachian Challenge Academy

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Graduating cadets stream into the assembly hall for the Dec. 12, 2014 for Appalachian Challenge Academy.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — On December 12-13, 2014 the Kentucky National Guard’s Youth Challenge celebrated dual graduations for the Bluegrass Challenge Academy at Fort Knox and the Bluegrass Challenge Academy in Harlan, graduating a combine 181 cadets hailing from just about every corner of the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the Appalachian Challenge Academy Graduation 005 Newsletter

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Cadets provide a color guard at the Bluegrass Challenge Academy graduation, Dec. 13, 2014.

During their tenure at their respective academies, cadets studied hard, accruing a total of 475 high school credits and more than 10,000 hours of community service.  They also took on a variety of life skills projects, to include raising vegetables for donation to local hospice patients and food banks for the needy, volunteering at local Headstart programs, raising awareness about domestic violence, learning CPR and taking part in college day events.

Most important, these determined young people developed team building and communications skills geared toward becoming independent, self-sufficient and effective adults.

Click here to see a message from Josh Mortenson, graduate of Bluegrass Challenge Academy Class 31.

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Bluegrass Challenge Academy class president Joshua Mortenson speaks to the audience during the Dec. 13, 2014 graduation ceremony.

“My son most definitely benefited from attending Bluegrass Challenge Academy,” said Sgt. 1st Class Diana Mortenson, mother of BCA class president Joshua Mortenson. “His time there gave him focus and discipline, plus it helped him figure out a few things about himself. He’s definitely more driven and determined to make a difference in his life. I’m so proud of him and I’m grateful to the cadre for the guidance and care they gave him.”

“I am constantly amazed by the mountain of accomplishments executed by these young people in such a short period of time,” said Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini, who oversees the program for the Kentucky National Guard.  “Many of these kids come to us with ruck sacks full of problems, some academic, some beyond just school.   But these young men and women change.  They are now trained and equipped to become productive members of our communities.”

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Appalachian Challenge Academy honor graduates Kourd MacGregor, Joseph Copley and Kaitlyn King look forward to the next challenge in their lives.

The next step for the graduates is to continue the ChalleNGe by beginning college, returning to high school, joining the military, continuing their adult education, or seeking employment.

Both academies are currently signing up candidates for their next class, which begins this weekend.  For more information visit kyyouthchallenge.org.