Story by Master Sgt. Philip Speck, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Tech. Sgt. Anthony Walker has been named the top recruiter of medical professionals in the Air National Guard for the second straight year.
Walker, who heads officer recruitment efforts for the Kentucky Air National Guard, received his second consecutive Medicine Man Award from the National Guard Bureau by recruiting more doctors than any other recruiter in the nation.
Walker said he was surprised to receive the honor, which was presented during a recruiting and retention seminar held at Volk Field, Wisconsin, over the summer.
“I was really surprised when they called my name,” Walker said. “I thought to myself, ‘Did they make a mistake? Were they talking about last year?’”
Walker, who competed against 25 other recruiters for the title, brought in six doctors in 2013. The national average is typically one or two a year, he said.
The process of recruiting a physician can be difficult, noted Walker, who also was named Recruiter of the Year for Region 4. Candidates require approval from the 123rd Medical Group, the 123rd Airlift Wing, Joint Forces Headquarters-Kentucky and the National Guard Bureau. The process involves a lot of paperwork and credentialing, and can take up to five months. Walker, however, has been able to streamline the process to as little as two months.
“You have to be well organized — attention to detail is a must — and be able to relate to candidates and tell them about the Air National Guard,” he said.
When Walker took over as officer recruiter in 2011, the 123rd Airlift Wing had only one flight surgeon. He quickly recruited Col. Christian Stewart as the state air surgeon and Lt. Col. Donna Stewart as a wing flight surgeon. Walker then worked with Christian Stewart to recruit even more physicians to the wing, including doctors for the 123rd Contingency Response Group and the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, both of which had never had physicians among their ranks before.
Such success didn’t come easy. Walker visited numerous medical schools in Kentucky and Tennessee, and reached out to other units in both the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard.
“It’s about getting our name out there,” he said. “I am the ambassador for the Kentucky Air National Guard. It’s my job to go out there and say we have positions here, and if you’re a doc, we want you as part of our team.”
Walker’s sales pitch is helped by the wing’s reputation for excellence, he added, noting that the wing is one of the most decorated units in the United States Air Force.
“It’s nice to have the decorations and the awards — to show that the Kentucky Air National Guard truly is the premiere unit of the Air National Guard. So this effort is much bigger than me. It’s about the organization.”
With a shortage of doctors across the Air National Guard, Walker often receives calls from peers asking for assistance or recruiting advice.
“I definitely try to mentor other individuals out there, because you to have to develop a great team. This takes a lot of effort on everybody’s part.”
Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Media coverage of sexual harassment and assaults has steadily increased across the nation in recent months. What starts out as a personal, intimate incident — usually between two people — has proven susceptible to the wildfire fanned by social media and the 24 hour news cycle, especially when it involves celebrities, institutions of higher learning and the military.
The truth is, sadly enough, sexual assault in the military is nothing new. The good news is that awareness and training to combat this threat are on the rise, which ironically leads to an increase in reports.
But that’s a good thing, says Charles Lay, Victim Advocate Coordinator for the Kentucky National Guard.
“According to the Rand Corporation, it used to be that only one in ten sexual assaults in the military were reported,” said Lay. “The most recent figures show that it’s now one in four.”
“It shows that our program is working and that our troops are getting the message,” he says. “You won’t find numbers like that in the civilian sector.”
Maj. John Harvey agrees. Harvey is the sexual assault response coordinator for the Kentucky Guard, which puts him on the hot seat when it comes to providing a safe environment for our troops.
“We’ve made a generation’s worth of changes in a matter of two or three years,” said Harvey. “Just in the past year alone we’ve received well over a hundred policy changes. It’s hard for our leaders to keep up with it. So it’s up to our office to raise awareness and get the word out there.”
Harvey takes his responsibilities to the men and women of the Kentucky National Guard seriously. He was recently awarded his Level II certification by the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, making him one of 27 people in the entire National Guard to be so recognized. What this means is that he’s put in the time and has experience in working actual sexual assault cases and providing services to victims. And that, in turn, shows growth in Kentucky’s program.
“I think we’re ahead of other states on these matters,” said Harvey. “The state leadership is taking this seriously. For instance, one of the best moves we’ve made is hiring a dual status technician to work as our full-time permanent sexual assault response coordinator. That sends out a powerful message.”
Still, there are challenges, such as dispelling the long held myth that all victims of sexual harassment and assault are female.
“The secretary of defense came out with guidance that involved getting more male victims to come forward, and we’ve pushed this out through our command channels,” said Harvey. “That’s actually been an issue here in Kentucky and we hit it head on.”
Educating the staff and the troops is key to the success of the program. Harvey recognizes that military leadership, especially at the individual unit level, is overtasked with responsibilities of running the units. That, plus the troops are focusing on readiness training.
“Everyone recognizes the problem and wants to do the right thing,” said Harvey. “I think it’s amazing that they get done what they can.
“Our goal here is to raise awareness, educate and ensure the availability of services to all survivors of sexual assault. If you’re victimized, come forward. Our subject matter expertise is among the top in the nation and we are here to protect your rights.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment or assault, reach out for help.
Staff Report with contributions from Jim Warren, Lexington Herald Leader
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Former Franklin Circuit Court Judge Henry Meigs II was a hero and a visionary who helped found the Kentucky Air National Guard.
Meigs died Dec. 5 in Louisville, Kentucky at the age of 93.
Born in New York, Meigs earned a law degree from the University of Kentucky after his service in World War II. He served as an Army Air Corps fighter pilot in the Pacific, flying the P-38 Lightning, shooting down six Japanese planes. He received the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross among numerous other air medals.
Enlisting into the Army in 1942, Meigs trained as a fighter pilot at Shaw Field in South Carolina. He then transferred to the 6th Night Fighter Squadron, flying missions in the South Pacific around Guadalcanal. Meigs would win at least three of his victories against Japanese bombers here, including the reported feat of shooting down two enemy planes within 60 seconds.
In 1944, Meigs married Sara Lesley Willis, daughter of Kentucky Governor Simeon Willis. The wedding was the first and so far only time the governor’s daughter was wed in the Governor’s Mansion.
While in law school, Meigs accepted a position as the first air officer in the Kentucky Guard in 1945, assuming the rank of lieutenant colonel. At the same time, the National Guard Bureau was generating interest among the states for the creation of Air National Guard units. In 1946, Gov. Willis sent his son-in-law to Washington D.C. to meet with officials about bringing an Air Guard unit to Kentucky.
Through correspondence with Brig. Gen. Gustavus H. May, Kentucky’s adjutant general, that meeting led to the 123rd Fighter Group coming to Standiford Field in Louisville. Through his hard work and determination, Meigs led the charge to bring the new air assets to the Commonwealth. A few months later, in 1947, the 123rd was federally recognized and then-Lt. Col. Philip Ardery took charge as the wing’s first commander.
“The Kentucky Air National Guard has a storied history of excellence, and it all started with Judge Meigs and Philip Ardery in 1947,” said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Adjutant General for Kentucky. “Judge Meigs led quite a distinguished life, from a World War II Ace to a prominent fixture in the courtrooms of the Commonwealth.”
“We are grateful for his vision and resolve that helped shape the Kentucky Air National Guard into a major player in the defense of this country and the security of our state.”
Meigs practiced law in Frankfort from 1949 until 1960, when then-Gov. Bert Combs selected him to serve as the first circuit judge of the newly created 48th District.
Because the court was based in Frankfort, Judge Meigs immediately was called on to handle cases testing the constitutionality of many pieces of state legislation and issues ranging from Christian schools to the Ten Commandments and the separation of powers in state government.
A second judgeship for the 48th District was created in 1974, and Squire Williams Jr. joined Judge Meigs on the bench. When the two retired in 1983, it marked the closing of “an important chapter in the history of the Kentucky judiciary,” the Herald-Leader reported.
After leaving the bench, Meigs moved to Louisville, where he practiced law until retiring in 2000.
In addition to his wife, Judge Meigs is survived by two sons, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Story by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen visited with more than 70 members of the 123rd Contingency Response Group here Dec. 6 to welcome them home from a deployment to Africa, where they supported Operation United Assistance, the international effort to fight Ebola.
“I am here to personally thank you on behalf of Gov. (Steve) Beshear,” Luallen told the Airmen. “We are proud to know our people from Kentucky were part of such an important mission.”
The Airmen, most of whom deployed overseas Oct. 2 and returned to Kentucky in late November, established an air cargo hub in Senegal that funneled more than 750 tons of humanitarian supplies and equipment into West Africa, where the worst Ebola outbreak in history has claimed more than 6,300 lives.
Luallen told the Airmen that she and the governor have tremendous respect for the men and women of the Kentucky Air National Guard.
“We know what a great job you do and are truly grateful for your service,” she said.
Kentucky’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, echoed Luallen’s sentiments.
“You guys were absolutely the focus of the nation and the world,” Tonini told the Airmen. “Having you at the tip of the spear is something we should all be proud of.”
The Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group is the only unit of its kind in the Air National Guard. Conceived as an “airbase in a box,” the group acts as an early responder in the event of contingencies worldwide. Its personnel are capable of deploying into remote airfields, providing command and control of aircraft, and establishing airfield operations so troops and cargo can flow into affected areas.
After meeting the CRG Airmen, Luallen visited the Kentucky Air Guard’s Maintenance Hangar to eat lunch with Airmen and their families.
Story by Sgt. Sandra K. Fariss, 206th Engineer Battalion
ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. — On Oct. 18, 2014 Maj. James B. Richmond, 206th Engineer Battalion Commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Vince Matteini uncased the new 2061st Multi-Role Bridge Company guidon at the Elizabethtown Armory. The guidon was then passed to Capt. Sean Higgs, who assumed command of the unit. The 2061st will be headquartered in the new Burlington Readiness Center with a detachment in Elizabethtown, Ky. The unit is a rare one that can conduct both wet and dry gap crossings in support of mobility operations. Its capabilities are critical to both Federal and State missions.
When deployed, the 2061st is capable of bridging the gap over both dry and wet gaps using a myriad of equipment such as the Dry Support Bridge (DSB), Ribbon Bridge, and the Mabey-Johnson Bridge. The DSB is a rigid bridge used to span across dry gaps, whereas the Ribbon Bridge is a floating bridge held in place by bridge erection boats in order to span wet gaps. The MRBC can also support flood rescue operations using the lightweight Zodiac inflatable boats. These capabilities enable Kentucky to better adhere to disasters.
“The unit can be very helpful in a situation such as seismic events on the New Madrid fault line,” said Richmond. “Many bridges may be damaged which would make relief efforts to the western portion of the state difficult. The MRBC could bridge damaged supply routes and allow relief efforts to better flow into the area.”
The 206th Engineer Battalion is no stranger to this kind of unit. The 206th has commanded this type of unit before: Echo Company 206th Engineer Battalion was a Ribbon Bridge Company that was stationed in Morehead, Kentucky. back in the 1990s and deployed to Falmouth, Kentucky in 1997. During that time it played a critical role in the flood relief.
“It is a distinct honor and privilege to be your first commander,” said Higgs. “I look forward to working with each of you to build this fine unit, but remember that this is your unit, so take pride in it!”
Story by Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The third annual collaboration for Operation Military Cheer kicked off Dec. 5, 2014 as members of the Home Builders Association of Lexington came together and handed off donated Christmas presents to members of the Kentucky National Guard’s Family Assistance Center in Lexington, Kentucky.
Lead Child and Youth Coordinator, Cindy Culver, helps facilitate most family programs throughout the year. Up to this point, she and the rest of the FAC have prepared mostly by collecting information for children and families for the holiday season.
“Today is when we really start kicking off Operation Military Cheer 2014,” said Culver. “After we receive the donations, we can get to work on providing gifts for tons of military families.”
The HBA filled a box truck with so many donations, that some gifts carried over into the back of another truck. One gift in particular, was greatly appreciated by Cindy.
“Every year we have special requests from children,” said Cindy. “This year a child asked Santa for a Power Wheels toy and, if he got it, he promised to share with his brother. Well the Home Builders Association, without hesitation, granted that child his wish.”
Operation Military Cheer means something different to another Family Assistance Center associate, Child and Youth Coordinator, Linda Jones. For her, Operation Military Cheer is the perfect time to give back to those who have sacrificed for her and others around her.
The representatives from the HBA were very proud to offer the donations. President of Home Builder Cares, and a member of the HBA board, James Monroe, brought his family to include his wife Martha and his daughter Mary.
“This is a very important relationship we have with the members of the Kentucky National Guard,” said James. “I’m happy that my family and I can help our Soldiers.”
Cindy hopes this will be another successful year and is confident in the success of Operation Military Cheer for the years to come.
“At the end of all this,” said Culver. “I have a peace in my heart when I can sit down and eat with my family on Christmas, and know that other families are doing the same thing, with our help. The smiles on their faces mean much more to me than anything else.”
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT,Ky. — Despite some technical difficulties, live video and sound finally came through the wire, and anxious family members saw loved ones on the large video screen. Several Kentucky families were joined via video teleconference with their deployed Soldiers at the Kentucky Guard’s annual holiday luncheon in Frankfort, Dec. 6. Kentucky newest lieutenant governor, Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen joined Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini in greeting the parents, wives and children of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation currently deployed to the Persian Gulf Region.
The tradition, started by Gov. Steve Beshear in 2009, gathered the family members of those deployed to honor them for their sacrifice, reminding them that the leadership of Kentucky is there for them.
“It’s really wonderful to have the adjutant general and the Kentucky Guard to be as supportive as they have been,” said Ashley Flanagan, Bravo Co.’s Family Readiness Group leader. “This is just like bringing a little bit of the holidays home.”
Dressed in holiday outfits, children ran back and forth in front of the video camera, stopping occaisionally to point at a familiar face on the screen. Toys were distributed, crafts were made and smiles filled the room. Families discussed recent happenings, University of Kentucky basketball games and the rainy Central Kentucky weather. A holiday atmosphere exactly as planned said Lt. Col. Michael Stephens, commander of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade.
“That’s what this event is about and is always about,” he said. “We invite families together to show them that we care. As a brigade commander those Soldiers are my children too, therefore their family members are my family, and we are here to support one another.”
Gov. Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear were unable to attend this year’s event, a first for the couple, but Lt. Gov. Luallen was more than happy to fill the role of host. Luallen said it was an honor for her to be there and that her own personal experiences have proved to her how difficult deployments can be.
“I know what a sacrifice it is for everyone of you to be without them during the holidays. It is so important to the security of the state and to the security of the nation that we have a strong Guard, like we do here in Kentucky.”
Bravo Co. deployed to the Middle East in June of 2014, flying UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters in airlift support missions for U.S. military operations throughout the region. They are expected to return in the Spring of 2015.
Flanagan is also the wife of Bravo Co.’s commander, Capt. Cliff Flanagan. This is her first deployment away from her husband. She said she wasn’t sure what she was getting into, becoming the commander’s wife and FRG leader, but thanks to the support of the brigade and the Kentucky Guard, she called it an easy ride.
“Being able to see the families interact with each other, you never know who’s able to speak with their loved ones or not, so for the Kentucky Guard to set that up and see it was amazing.”
The unit has deployed several times over the past decade, but the most recent is the first for many of it’s members, including Sgt. Ethan Skaggs who serves as a crew chief. Skaggs family turned out in a large number to enjoy what they called a great support network.
“It was great to come here and see our loved one on the video,” said Ethan’s mother, Donna Skaggs. “I even got to see him put up a ‘Hi Mom’ sign. So that’s our Ethan.”
Story by Master Sgt. Diane Stinnett, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky.- Seven Airmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing, all sponsored with funds from the base Morale, Welfare and Recreation fund, participated in the 18th Annual Air Force Marathon at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, September 19-20, 2014.
Sponsorship included reimbursement of the registration fee for either the half or full marathon and a race-day t-shirt representing the unit, according to Master Sgt. Jennifer Thiery, superintendent of Services for the 123rd Force Support Squadron.
“The way we use the fund has to be available to the whole base’” said Thiery. “We chose to use it to help members run the Air Force Marathon because fitness is so important right now and it encourages a healthy lifestyle.”
The event consists of the Sports and Fitness Expo, 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon and in past years, sponsorship has been available only for the full marathon, and was limited to one male and one female with a prerequisite that the member had run a previous marathon.
This year, the sponsorship was made available for up to ten participants, regardless of whether they had run a past marathon, and was expanded to include the half marathon. Ten members signed up for the sponsorship, but several were not able to complete the event because of injuries.
“We knew there were people out there who were interested, but just haven’t done [a marathon] yet. We had to turn some people away,” said Thiery.
Master Sgt. Larry Bristow, unit training manager for the 123rd Security Forces Squadron, ran the full marathon along with Maj. Joshua Elwell and Staff Sgt. John Ostrowske. It was the second marathon for Bristow, who plans to make participation in the event a goal for all security forces personnel.
“We want to emphasize how important physical fitness is for the new generation coming in,” said Bristow. “I appreciate that the base did this. It’s a good deal all around.”
Participants in the half marathon were Master Sgt. Michael Bradley, Master Sgt. Christopher Carder, Tech. Sgt. Aja Blair and Tech. Sgt. Scott O’Brien. Blair was training for another marathon when the opportunity came to run the Air Force half marathon.
“I have always wanted to do it and I thought this would be a good opportunity”, said Blair. “I loved how many people there were, the atmosphere was really good.”
Capt. Leslie Brooks, commander of the 123rd Communication Squadron, also ran the full marathon but was not a part of the sponsorship program, and two Airmen ran the 5K.
Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Do you know a young person that wants to go to college or vocational school but can’t? Maybe they’re having trouble at school or just fitting in? As the old saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
The Kentucky National Guard Youth Challenge Program offers scholarship opportunities for both college and vocational technical schools. Cadets from both the Bluegrass Challenge Academy at Fort Knox and the Appalachian Challenge Academy in Harlan have gone on to attend more than two dozen institutions, including Eastern Kentucky University, ITT Tech, Louisville Tech, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University and Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology.
“Kentucky’s Youth Challenge program presents some wonderful opportunities for young people who are having trouble getting started in life,” said Maj. Jake McKinney, Education Officer for the Kentucky National Guard. “We’ve developed some great partnerships with organizations who believe in today’s youth and are committed to making a difference in their lives.”
The Challenge Program itself is the equivalent to an $18,000 scholarship, said McKinney.
“We are basically paying young people to help themselves,” he said.
Jointly funded between the federal government and the Commonwealth of Kentucky and sponsored by the Kentucky National Guard, Youth ChalleNGe is designed to help youth, ages 16-18, get a jump start on life.
The 22-week credit recovery program is geared toward completing a high school diploma as well as physical fitness, leadership and community awareness projects. The program has been around for nearly 20 years. More than 100,000 cadets have graduated from the program nation-wide.
Basic qualifications for admission include:
- Applicants must be between the ages of 16-18 on class start date (Jan 2015)
- Free of illegal drugs
- A high school student failing to progress toward completion or a high school dropout who has not received a secondary school diploma, GED certificate, or equivalent from another program
- Mentally and physically capable to participate
- Not under indictment or convicted of a felony offense
- The program is 100% free for qualified applicants. Spring classes begin January 11, 2015.
There are currently two Youth Challenge academies in Kentucky — the Bluegrass Challenge Academy is located at Fort Knox while Harlan is home to the Appalachian Challenge Academy.
For more information visit kyyouthchallenge.org
You can also call:
- Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy: Josh Coldiron – 502-607-5951
- Bluegrass ChalleNGe Academy: Patrick Yewell – 502-607-5901
Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard’s hub of operations at the Boone National Guard Center (BNGC) took a positive step toward safety as the Security Force, conducted their mandatory annual training, Oct. 29-30 in Frankfort, Ky. Local agencies and organizations from all around the state provided presentations, demonstrations, and exercises in all fields relating to security services.
“To combat or possibly prevent tragedies from happening here, our security force trains and trains hard with certified school instructors on all areas of expertise on the subject matter to be the very best force possible for the mission we serve,” said Larry McCord, chief of security.
McCord said his team received a wealth of knowledge, training and input from security experts. The two-day schedule of instruction included visits from the Kentucky Intelligence Fusion Center, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, the Frankfort Police Department (FPD) and the Kentucky Guard’s Antiterrorism office.
After the first day of information, the team put it all into action in various areas of active shooter training techniques on day two. Frankfort Police officers trained to teach various swat tactics and techniques in active shooter responses facilitated the exercises.
Capt. Walter Martin with the FPD commended BNGC’s security team, calling the interaction an advantage of multi-agency cohesion.
“This is a great group of folks, fast learners and very enthusiastic,” said Martin. “The more trainees we get for these techniques, the better interoperability we will have throughout the state.”
McCord admits his team doesn’t get the opportunity to train as much as he may like, but the quality training, positive response from his officers and gratifying comments from his peers is testament of a job well done.
“To earn the respect of other agencies through training and field trials is the highest compliment this force can receive for the time, dedication, and service put into accomplishing our daily mission.”