Story by Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Lyddane

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Warrant Officer Candidate Stephanie Bradley and her fellow Warrant Officer Candidates from Class 15-001 take part in a WOCS tradition by presenting their class sign to the Fort Rucker, Alabama staff.  (Kentucky Army National Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Lyddane)

GREENVILLE, Ky. — Prior to August 26, 1920, women were considered inferior to men, they were limited to careers that many believed to be suppressive, and society’s view placed them as being less capable than their male counterparts. After more than seventy years of campaigning (the first women’s rights conference was held a Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848) history was made when women were officially added to the US Constitution under the 19th Amendment, granting them the right to vote. A small victory but a huge accomplishment at the time and also marked a turning point in the struggle for equality and women’s rights; no longer were women considered second class citizens. For this reason, August 26th has been declared by the President as Women’s Equality Day since 1972.

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Throughout the last century women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Grace Hopper, Jackie-Joyner-Kersee, and Maya Lin have shattered barriers and confronted stereotypes; each joining the ranks of thousands who have fueled the imagination and drive of others with aspirations of making a difference. Similar to those original trail blazers, there is a new generation of women on the forefront proving that women are skilled, qualified, and resilient enough to overcome the challenges offered in today’s military.

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In the early morning hours on July 18, 2015, the Warrant Officer Candidates of Class 15-001 are required to complete a 6.2 mile ruck march in less than 106 minutes. This is one the many tests required of WOCs during their training and — according to Warrant Officer Candidate Stephanie Bradley — one of the toughest challenges yet. (Kentucky Army National Guard photo by WOC David Cureton)

Stephanie Bradley is one such example. One of five siblings, three brothers and a twin sister she decided to enlist in the Kentucky Army National Guard eight years ago in order to support her personal goal of attending college.Because of her background, hard work ethic, and accompanying reputation, she is in pursuit of a new goal after receiving approval to become a Warrant Officer. She is one of eleven Warrant Officer Candidates currently attending the 238th Regimental Training Institute’s Warrant Officer Candidate School at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Kentucky – and in observance of Women’s Equality Day it is important to point out she is the only female.

“I was inspired by all the Warrant Officers I have met and wanted to progress in my professional career,” said Bradley.

Upon commissioning and after completing her Warrant Officer Basic Course she will be a 920B, Supply Systems Technician responsible for instructing, managing, and supervising the receipt, storage, and issuance of supplies and equipment.

The male dominated Warrant Officer Candidate Class 15-001, aptly named the Brown Bears can be an intimidating environment to some but for Warrant Officer Candidate (WOC) Bradley, it’s a welcomed challenge and, now six months into the course, has almost solidified her dream. As a previous nominee for Unit NCO of the year and Battalion Soldier of the year, it is clear that her superiors have recognized her talent.

“WOC Bradley consistently demonstrates the subject matter expertise that Warrant Officers are known for. She will make an excellent addition to the Warrant Officer Corps,” said Capt. Jake Kwiek, commander of Alpha Company, 103rd Brigade Support Battalion.

When her peer and fellow candidate WOC John Smith was asked what makes her stand out from the rest, he replied, “She always goes above what is expected and has been an asset for the entire class, she personally developed our study methods that has kept us all on track.”

“From the first day I met WOC Bradley during last January’s OCS/WOCS open house, I was impressed with her initiative and ability to get things done, and done right,” said State Command Chief Warrant Officer Dean Stoops. “She initially stood out amongst her fellow applicants by her ability to complete the application process in a very short period of time, and in time to attend Zero Phase in March and begin Phase Two in April.

“I knew then, this Soldier was Warrant Officer material and would go far as a Supply Systems Technician. I have no doubts she has a bright future ahead of her and will be a great asset to the Kentucky Army National Guard and the Quartermaster Corps.”

With a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts (minor in psychology) from Lindsey Wilson College, an extensive amount of military training, several accolades, and a reputable civilian career in production control at Lockheed-Martin, this future warrant officer has proven to be one of the Kentucky Army National Guard’s rising stars.

Bradley’s advice to other females in the military? “Do not let the perceived physical standards hold you back. Be willing to step outside of their comfort zones and if you’re the one complaining and wishing things would change, then put yourself in a position where you can change it – as a leader.”

For more information on the Kentucky National Guard’s warrant officer program contact Chief Warrant Officer Ryan Turner at (502) 607-6200, Cell: (502) 320-3653 or email at Ryan.turner2@usarec.army.mil.

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Brig. Gen. David Graetz, assistance chief of chaplains for the National Guard, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general, Chaplain (Col.) Yong Cho, state chaplain and retired Col. James Dill, former state chaplain, cut a cake celebrating 240 years of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., July 29, 2015. There are more than 1,200 chaplains serving today in the National Guard and Army Reserves. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps is one of the oldest and smallest branches of the Army and their impact on Soldiers is immeasurable. On the 240th birthday of the Chaplain Corps, the Kentucky National Guard family gathered to pay tribute to those whose faith is their mightiest weapon.

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general joined Brig. Gen. David Graetz, the assistant chief of chaplains for the Army National Guard, Guardsmen, and friends and family for a birthday celebration in Frankfort, Ky., July 29, 2015.

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Retired Col. James DIll, former senior Army chaplain for the Kentucky National Guard speaks during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., celebrating 240 years of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps, July 29, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“Our chaplains are an invaluable resource to commanders and Soldiers alike,” said Tonini. “I encourage all our Guardsmen to get to know their chaplains, tell them what you need and discover for yourself the vast resource he or she can bring to the mission.”

There are 20 chaplains serving the Kentucky Guard with 10 chaplain assistants to reach the more than 8,000 Citizen-Soldiers across the commonwealth. There are roughly 1,200 chaplains in the Army’s reserve components and 1,300 in the active duty, representing five major faiths (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist) and more than 120 denominations.

“The 240th United States Army Chaplain Birthday celebration highlights the service, sacrifice, and diversity of our Corps,” said Chaplain (Col.) Yong Cho, state chaplain for Kentucky. “I am proud of our Kentucky Army National Guard Chaplain Corps for their outstanding ministry. I am equally proud of the support we have from Maj. Gen. Tonini and the entire senior leadership.  I believe our senior leaders are committed in caring for the religious needs of all service members.”

Spc. Cheyenne Jennings serves as a religious affairs specialist and has for five years. She shares Tonini’s opinion of the chaplain corps being a valuable resource.

“It is an honor to serve alongside one of the best entities in the military,” she said. “I get to support those who support the welfare and well being of this country’s armed forces.”

In addition to a brief history of the Chaplain Corps, which dates back to Gen. George Washington’s forces during the Revolution, several displays were set up to show the reach and impact of chaplains. From religious war relics of past wars to information on the Strong Bonds program, which chaplains arrange and conduct, Kentucky’s chaplains ensured those in attendance were educated and entertained by the role of the faith-guided Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard.

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Chaplains with the Kentucky National Guard discuss religious diversity with Guardsmen during the Kentucky National Guard’s Diversity Day in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 1, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“This was our first attempt of recognizing the United States Army Chaplain Corps Birthday,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Bill Draper. “I am glad the event was well attended and supported. It is important to share the story of the Chaplain Corps because it reminds Soldiers of a unique support system in place to protect their individual freedom of the free exercise of religion.”

“On behalf of the Kentucky Army National Guard Chaplain Corps, we are proud to serve America’s best. We are especially proud of our families who enable our service. May God bless each of you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”

 

Photos and video by Olivia Burton, Kentucky National Guard Community Outreach

UntitledNANCY, Ky. — More than 200 military children enjoyed another successful week of outdoor fun at the Kentucky National Guard’s annual Youth Camp on the banks of Lake Cumberland July 20-24. The camp in Southern Kentucky offered the kids a variety of unique experiences such as zip-lining and archery along with age-old summer favorites like swimming and fishing. Visit the Kentucky Guard’s Child and Youth Services Facebook page for more photos. HV3A2385

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By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Kentucky National Guard Airmen and Soliders compete in a rifle match at Fort Knox, Ky., July 25, 2015. The Guardsmen fired M4 rifles and M9 pistols in a variety of events during the annual Adjutant General Marksmanship Match. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FORT KNOX, Ky. — Annually, the top shooters in the Kentucky National Guard gather to prove their skills and compete for the exclusive Governor’s Twenty patch. More than 50 Soldiers and Airmen took to the firing line at Fort Knox, Ky., July 25-26 for the Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match.

“This event showcases what the Kentucky National Guard has to offer as far as marksmanship is concerned,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Dean, Kentucky Marksmanship coordinator. “Shooting, I think, is in a Kentuckian’s DNA.”

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An Airman fires during a pistol event at The Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match in Fort Knox, Ky., July 25, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

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The Kentucky  Guard awards the “Governor’s Twenty” tab only to the top 20 participants who have accumulated enough points over the two days of matches. Those that have earned the tab must also out perform those that may have already earned it, meaning if 18 of the participants currently ranked in the top 20 have previous been awarded the tab then only two will be awarded, which happened this year.

Master Sgt. Edwin Garcia of Joint Force Headquarters, and Staff Sgt. Shahid Iqbal of the 238th Training Regiment were the only two awarded the tab this year.

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Kentucky Guardsmen compete in a pistol event during The Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match at Fort Knox, Ky., July 25, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“When all the many things we as Soldiers and Airmen have to do to satisfy yearly training obligations are complete, we still have to be a confident and competent operator of small-arms,” said Dean. “Thankfully the Kentucky National Guard’s leadership has already seen the importance of these events and once again stepped up to ensure its success.”

Guardsmen also compete for the “Top Gun” award, which is given to the participant who achieves the highest point total over the two days. This year there were five individual matches that created the aggregate score. Staff Sgt. Jacob Fuller of 123rd Civil Engineering Squardron, 123rd Air Wing was the winner of the award. Fuller was also the top rifle marksman for the weekend, while Dean brought home top honors for pistol competition.

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A Soldiers fires during a rifle event at The Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match at Fort Knox, Ky., July 25, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Capt. William Wilford, Kentucky’s senior marksmanship coordinator said the Small Arms Readiness Training Section’s (SARTS) mission is to stand ready to be a combat multiplier to commanders across the state via clinics, or by sending SARTS NCO’s to their training events to assist in training Soldiers.

“From basic qualifications of individual weapons, to training in the live-fire Shoot-house, we have the tools available to meet a commander’s intent,” said Wilford. “This yearly training event allows a wealth of knowledge to gather to assist new soldiers and airmen in some of the finer arts of marksmanship and to simply become better at their jobs.”

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Kentucky Guardsmen review their targets at The Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Match in Fort Knox, Ky., July 25, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general passes the non-commissioned officer’s sword to Command Sgt. Maj. David Munden during an assumption of responsibility ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 7, 2015. Munden became the state’s ninth command sergeant major, taking over for Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley who retired in June. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Command Sgt. Maj. David Munden became Kentucky’s ninth state command sergeant major during an assumption of responsibility ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 7. He takes over from Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley who retired in June.

Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini presided over the event and presented Munden with the NCO sword signifying Munden’s responsibility as the senior non-commissioned officer for the Kentucky Army National Guard.

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Command Sgt. Maj. David Munden returns the non-commissioned officer’s sword to Staff Sgt. Adam Rients to complete an assumption of responsibility ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 7, 2015. Munden assumes the role following an assignment as the command sergeant major of the Warrior Transition Battalion in Fort, Knox, Ky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“This is the culminating event of my career,” said Munden. “I can’t imagine any other job that I’d want after this one.”

In his position as the senior noncommissioned officer, the state command sergeant major advises the Adjutant General of Kentucky on the nearly 6500 enlisted Soldiers in the Kentucky Army National Guard, emphasizing training and quality of life issues. He is also charged with the fair and equitable management of promotions and personnel actions.

“I am a Soldier, and I’m a sergeant. And sergeants execute missions. I may have a fancy title, but I will still execute this mission with the confidence and trust I have been shown.”

Munden has served 33 years in uniform, 23 of those while married to his wife, Ginger. It was a very emotional event for the Munden family with several family members in attendance for the ceremony.

“I’m so proud of him today and I know he will do such a good job for the Soldiers,” she said. “We’ve worked hard to get him here and it means a lot to him and I hope he has the opportunity to accomplish the mission.”

Munden originally enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1979 and served six years active duty before joining the Kentucky Guard in 1988. He served the majority of his career with the 223rd Military Police Company and the 198th MP Battalion. In 2012, Munden deployed to Afghanistan as a senior mentor with Kentucky’s final Agribusiness Development Team. Upon his return, Munden was appointed the command sergeant major of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Knox, Kentucky, a job he called eye-opening and very rewarding.

“I’m from the military police, I’m of the troops and for the troops. That’s the last time you’ll hear me speak specifically of MPs, I am for all the Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard. That’s how I’m going to be.”

 

By Staff Sgt. Vicky Spesard, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Master Sgt. Benjamin (right), a combat controller with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, is awarded the Bronze Star Medal during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., June 6, 2015. The medal, presented by Col. Robert Hamm, commander of the 123rd Operations Group, was awarded for meritorious service while conducting operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Vicky Spesard

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A combat controller from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron was awarded the Bronze Star Medal here June 6 for meritorious service while deployed to Southwest Asia and Northwest Africa, where he engaged enemy forces and deterred their advances.

Master Sgt. Benjamin was instrumental in the execution of nine missions across five countries and seven landing zones, conducting nine forward-area refueling point surveys and one drop-zone certification in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to the award citation.

Benjamin supervised a 53-man joint special operations team during the night infiltration and assessment of a strategic airfield. Working with Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance operators, Benjamin was able to maintain tactical control of three separate maneuver elements on the ground while simultaneously conducting pavement evaluations for two primary runways on the airfield.

Additionally, he supervised a 12-man joint special operations team tasked with an airfield security assessment, enabling partner nation forces to maintain momentum and resupply forces in their fight against Al Qaeda.

Finally, Benjamin delivered crucial survey results to two Special Forces teams conducting strategic site assessments, equipping commanders with support to re-open strategic infrastructure.

The Bronze Star Medal was authorized by executive order on Feb. 4, 1944, and is awarded to service members who have distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.

Kentucky infantrymen conduct largest air assault exercise in six years

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Spc. Robert Satterfield with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry exits a landing zone during an air assault exercise at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind., July 26, 2015. Three companies of infantrymen participated in one of the largest training exercises for the battalion in six years. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

BUTLERVILLE, Ind. — In terms of basic Soldier skills, the infantry is arguably the hardest training unit in the Kentucky Guard. But it’s not everyday Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry get to put all that training into a full-spectrum exercise. As a culminating event to this year’s two-week annual training for the unit, the Mountain Warriors conducted a multi-day air assault mission at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Ind., July 24-27.

“Stuff like this is phenomenal, it’s great training,” said Spc. David Woodford with Alpha Company, 1/149th. “This kind of training will keep me in uniform.”

Soldiers with Alpha and Bravo Co., 1/149th loaded their gear and flew by UH-60 Blackhawks to the landing zone at Muscatatuck, compliments of the U.S. Army Reserves’ 11th Theater Aviation Command out of Fort Knox, Ky. Each Soldier carried their weapon and everything they needed for the three-day mission on their backs. Many of the Guardsmen flew on their first helicopter ride. And at the end of it, they had to get themselves, their gear and their fellow Soldiers out of the aircraft as quickly and as organized as possible.

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Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry conduct an air assault exercise at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind., July 26, 2015. Aviators from the 11th Theater Aviation Command at Fort Knox, Ky., provided eight UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to transport the infantrymen to the training site. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

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From the landing zone, the 1/149th was tasked with assaulting and securing a building complex occupied by members of Charlie Company, simulating an opposition forces. The three companies of infantrymen then had to hold their position and establish relations with locals.

In advance of the air assault, a small platoon of scouts paved the way for the main body attack. For those scouts, the mission was a couple days longer as they infiltrated the area two days prior to the battalion’s arrival. They were the eyes and ears of the attack. A job they said they wouldn’t trade for any other in the battalion.

“This is as high as you can get as far as training value,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Combs with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1/149th. “No one here would want any other job during this training. When this mission is all said and done, only good stories will come out of it.”

From boarding and egressing a helicopter, moving as a fire team and even kicking in doors, the Mountain Warriors checked off a number of mission essential tasks they must train for each year.  Lt. Col. Joseph Lear, commander of the 1/149th said the AT provided an excellent chance for each section of the battalion to not only train, but to put their job specialities to the test.

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Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry stack on a wall during a training exercise at the Muscatatuck Urban training Center in Butlerville, Ind., July 26, 2015. The unit conducted an air assault mission to seize a building complex and hold their position against a simulated enemy force. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“Conducting an air assault is one of our primary tasks,” said Lear. “This enabled us to do something we haven’t done since 2009 as a battalion. It’s a tremendous training multiplier for us, to be able to do that kind of mission at that scale, we are grateful to have the opportunity.”

Members of Delta Company provided the ground assault and convoyed by Humvees to the site. In reserve was the 1149th Forward Support Company, whose job is to ensure the infantry can do their job. Chief Warrant Officer Melissa Propes with the 1149th said the annual training was also an invaluable training opportunity for her Soldiers as well.

“I love seeing these Soldiers get experience in what they do, and they got to do that here. Not only did they get good training, it made a difference to the infantry. And that is absolutely what the 1149th FSC is supposed to do,” she said. “Everybody from the infantryman to the mess section, to distro to maintenance, everybody has an essential piece of the puzzle, or they wouldn’t be here. And we’re just happy to contribute.”

Leading up to the assault mission, Soldiers of the unit trained in a variety of squad and platoon-sized drills at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, to hone their skills and prepare for the final mission.

Pvt. Scottie Pace is a cook with the 1149th FSC and attended his first annual training.

“When I first enlisted, I had no idea what to expect on an AT,” he said. “Now, I feel like knowing that I can do my job and help the unit is a great thing to prepare me for future training and makes me a better Soldier.”

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Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry advance across a road during a training exercise at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind., July 26, 2015. The exercise was the culminating event of the unit’s two-week annual training period. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

More than 550 Soldiers of the battalion were on hand for the training period. Platoon leaders and company commanders agreed their Soldiers greatly benefitted from the unique training and the boost in morale.

“There’s nothing like training in the field,” said Spc. Joseph Hill from Alpha Co. “You’re really able to do your job and refresh your skills. It’s hard to find a bad part of this AT.”

Battalion leadership were pleased with the effort put forth by their Soldiers and the chance to put them in the field and participants and witnesses to the unique energy of the infantry.

“This type of training is also why people enlist,” said Lear. “They don’t join to stand a drill hall and get briefs. These troops will talk about this air assault for years.”

“That’s how this type of training leads to retention, which leads to strength, which leads to funding, which leads to more quality training. That’s the impact this has on this battalion.”

 

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Soldiers preparing to exit their term of service or ETS, speak with members of the Kentucky Guard’s personnel office to verify personal records during a final formation event in Frankfort, Ky., July 12, 2015. The Soldiers are required to review their records for accuracy including finance and medical histories. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A new program in the Kentucky National Guard is now providing Soldiers leaving the Service their own opportunity to close, or open the door to a future in the Guard.

Known as the Final Formation, Soldiers preparing for their expiration of term of service or ETS are required to attend the one-day event to either re-up or out-process. This initiative provides a process that enables the Soldiers to out process from the Kentucky National Guard, for personnel staff to work issues, and an opportunity for the senior leadership to affect a Soldier’s decision to reenlist.

“We absolutely want to retain every good qualified Soldier, no doubt,” said Col. Michael Abell, director of the Kentucky Guard’s personnel office. “But for those who have honorably served, whether it was one term or 30 years, we also want to ensure they exit the Kentucky Guard with the same level of detail and care as when they entered.”

The program provides two objectives: 1. To ensure the Soldiers who are going to ETS are provided a transition program and understand the benefits they will retain and the benefits they will lose. 2.  One last appeal to the Soldier to retain highly qualified Soldiers and their experience.

After six years in the Guard, Sgt. Russell Gray from the 223rd Military Police Company has decided to leave to spend more time with his family.

“It’s good to be able to come here and have the opportunity to say your peace, your side of the story and why you’re getting out,” said Gray.

For Pfc. Dillon Morvel, also from the 223rd, the program was a window of opportunity to continue his service to the commonwealth by re-enlisting.

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Lt. Col. Lance Grebe re-enlists Pfc. Dillon Morvel during a final formation event in Frankfort, Ky., July 12, 2015. The final formation program offers Soldiers on last chance to re-up or out-process with assistance from the Kentucky Guard’s personnel office. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“It’s more formal to come to Frankfort to do this,” he said. “Being here really shows you that not only your unit wants you stay in, but your state wants you too.”

“I love being in the Guard, I really enjoy every minute each month,” he added.

Items Covered at the event include: Personal records review, medical records review, Veteran benefits, finance review, retirement planning, and employment services. For those Soldiers retiring, the Final Formation offers a critical piece of their out-processing as all paperwork is reviewed for accuracy and completion.

Kentucky borrowed pieces of the program from other states, after hearing the success stories.  Lt Col. Lance Grebe, transition officer,  said the program is expected to continue indefinitely as Guardsmen ETS monthly.

“I believe one of the biggest misconceptions of Final Formation is we are strictly focused on trying to change Soldiers decisions about discontinuing their service to the Kentucky Army National Guard.  However, the intent of the program is focused on providing Soldiers with a smooth transition out of the military if they choose,” said Grebe. “They have earned it and deserve our attention regardless of their intentions.”

 

 

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Kentucky civic leaders and employers visit with Kentucky Guardsmen as part of an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Boss Lift at Fort Knox, Ky., July 22, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — When a National Guard Soldier or Airman serves their one weekend and month and two-weeks in the summer, they are considered a traditional Guardsman. With the overwhelming majority of Kentucky’s Guardsmen falling into that category, hundreds of employers across the commonwealth are included in the extended Guard family. During ceremonies to welcome home, promote or award Guardsmen, we always hear the common gratitude to the families for sharing their loved one with the Guard. But it also a familiar acknowledgment to the employers and businesses that have also supported Kentucky’s Citizen-Soldiers.

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Lt. COl. Rob Larkin, command of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade speaks to employers and civic leaders during the civilians’ visit to the unit as part of an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve boss lift at Fort Knox, Ky., July 22, 2015. The ESGR group toured the 138th’s tactical operations center, interacted with Soldiers and witnessed a live fire exercise of M109 Paladins. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

As a thank you to several such military-friendly employers, Kentucky’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve held a day with the troops event, July 22. Commonly referred to as a Bosslift, such events provide employers and civic leaders the opportunity to see first hand what Kentucky’s Guardsmen, their employees, do when they are “off work.”

More than 30 representatives from local agencies and businesses from Lexington to Bowling Green flew by Blackhawk helicopter to Fort Knox, Kentucky and the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Kentucky for the up-close view of National Guard training.

“The ESGR Bosslift program is essential in helping employers and community leaders understand what our Citizen-Soldiers do while in uniform,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Mike Richie, a support specialist with Kentucky’s ESGR. “Most develop a deep appreciation for the dedication and sacrifice required to serve in the military.  It’s also an opportunity to thank them for their contribution to our nation’s defense by employing and supporting our Service members.”

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Soldiers with the 138th Field Artillery Brigade were first to play host to the ESGR group at Fort Knox. Kentucky Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini joined Lt. Col. Rob Larkin, commander of the 138th in greeting the civilians in a field environment the 138th was occupying for annual training. The employers met with the artillery Soldiers, toured their tactical operation center and vehicles, and witnessed a live fire exercise by the unit’s M109 Paladins.

One of the Paladin crew members was Sgt. 1st Class James Hatfield, a fireman with the Bardstown FIre Department. Among the visitors was Chief Marlin Howard, Hatfield’s boss.

“He has seen me in uniform before, but never in the field, never in this atmosphere, I’m sure his perspective will probably change a little bit,” said Hatfield. “Telling someone what you do is one thing, but when they see you in the environment you do it, is a completely different story. It’s hard for them to get that visual.”

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Chief Marlin Howard, chief of the Bardstown FIre Department has he photo taken with Sgt. 1st Class James Hatfield during an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve boss lift at Fort Knox, Ky., July 22, 2015. Hatfield serves with Howard in Bardstown as his full-time employment. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“It means a lot that he came out here,” Hatfield added. “We are super busy at work and for him to take the time, see what I do and be a part of it, and to have a boss care enough to want to know what you do is pretty awesome.”

Hatfield has spent 21 years in the military uniform and 14 years as a fireman. The balance has worked for him, but knows some still believe that Guardsmen just get a couple extra days off each month.

“Employers on these boss lifts can see first hand, this isn;t a vacation out here, it’s good quality training for something we might have to do down the road.”

Howard said he has a small and close department, so everyone knows each other pretty well but hearing and seeing are two different things.

“He is a great employee and I kinda knew what he did outside work, but until you put boots on the ground with him, stand there beside with the equipment he works with, it’s an unbelievable moment,” said Howard. “It’s great to know and see that training that they get here, they take it back to their community.”

“I really appreciate everything the Guard has done to make us feel welcome into all of this, it’s been very nice and educational.”

In addition to the visit with the 138th, the employers and civic leaders traveled to the Kentucky’s Guard’s primary training facility in Greenville to see members of the 103rd Chemical Company during search and rescue training and Soldiers with the 138th Signal Company conducting vehicle roll-over training.

Chief Keith Jackson has a unique view of the day as he spent 27 years in the military. Now the Lexington Fire Department chief returns to the training fields to see Larkin, his friend and fellow fireman. Jackson expressed the pride he has for Larkin and the accomplishments he continues in the Guard and knows the sights and sounds will have an impact on the other employers.

“I think, today has opened their eyes to what truly at Citizen-Soldier is,” he said. “And they see what the Service members can offer, not only to the country but to the average American citizen.”

For more information on ESGR, visit www.esgr.mil, and www.kentuckyguard.com for information on Kentucky’s ESGR program.

 

By, Maj. Jimmie Warinner, 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery

623 live fire

A M142 High Mobility Rocket Launcher (HIMARS) from the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery fires during training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., July 21, 2015. The launch was the first live fire exercise conducted at Camp Atterbury. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Maj. Jimmie Warriner)

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Soldiers of the 1st Battalion 623rd Field Artillery recently completed an innovative and successful annual training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The key training event for AT 2015 was a seven day field training exercise that concluded July 24 with all crews in the battalion conducting multiple live fires with the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

This was the first Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or HIMARS live fire ever conducted at Camp Atterbury, and was made possible through close coordination with the 1/623rd and Camp Atterbury’s Range Control personnel. Not only did this coordination allow Morgan’s Men to successfully complete crew certifications, but it also demonstrated an increased training capability for Camp Atterbury confirming that they can support future live fire training for both MLRS and HIMARS units.

This was only one of three “firsts” that Morgan’s Men accomplished during this annual training.

623 Green Crew

Spc. Michael Fosso, Staff Sgt. Norman Schwartz, and Spc. Logan Green with the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery stand in front of their HIMARS vehicle, “Rebel 42″ during their live fire exercise during annual training July 21, 2015 at Camp Atterbury, Ind.  Green is the first female crew member with the 1/623rd. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Maj. Jimmie Warriner)

Among the crew members sending rockets roaring downrange was Spc. Logan Green, the first female MLRS Crewman to ever fire a rocket for the 1/623rd. With more combat arms military occupational specialties opening to women, females now have the option of becoming MLRS Crewmen (13M) or Fire Direction Control Operators (13P) within HIMARS units.

A HIMARS crew consists of a Gunner, Driver, and Launcher Chief. Green is the driver for Alpha Battery’s HIMARS nicknamed “Rebel 42”. She grew up in Florida and joined the Kentucky National Guard because she always wanted to be in the military and it allowed her to fund her college education.

“I am proud and excited to be the first female to live fire the HIMARS in the 1-623d and I want to set a good example for other Soldiers, males and females, who serve with me”. Green, a 2015 recipient of the Minuteman Scholarship, plans on continuing her military career by pursuing a commission as a Field Artillery officer through the University of Kentucky’s ROTC program.

Click here to read about Green’s enlistment into the Kentucky Guard.

The final “first” completed during Annual Training 2015 was support of a MLRS Crewmen (13M30) Advanced Leadership Course (ALC) conducted by 1st Battalion 238th Regiment. Nine Soldiers, including seven from the 1/623rd completed the first week of the 13M30 course at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Kentucky before traveling to Camp Atterbury to complete week two in the field. For the culminating event of the course, the ALC students were certified by the battalion’s Master Gunner and then participated in a HIMARS live fire.

This was the first time that a HIMARS live fire has been part of a MLRS crewman course, but something that Regional Training Institutes throughout the country are considering implementing as part of their course of instruction. The partnership between the 1/623rd and 1/238th proved that this concept of training is viable, allowing Soldiers to complete ALC while also participating in valuable training exercises with their assigned units and crews. This cooperative effort also resulted in the Soldiers completing the course with very little additional cost to the Kentucky Army National Guard beyond that of a normal annual training.

With Annual Training 2015 completed, Morgan’s Men are now preparing for future training operations and more “firsts” such as a planned training event with the Kentucky Air National Guard.

To learn more about Morgan’s Men and the great things they’re doing, follow them on Facebook.