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By Master Sgt. Charles Delano, 165th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, Georgia Air National Guard

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U.S., British, Dutch and Polish troops parachute from a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 near Groesbeek, Netherlands, Sept. 18, 2014, as part of the 70th-anniversary re-enactment of Operation Market Garden. The historic World War II mission was, at the time, the largest airborne assault ever conducted. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Charles Delano)

EINDHOVEN, Holland – Four C-130H Hercules aircraft assigned to the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard, and the 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard, air-dropped a mix of 360 U.S., British, Dutch and Polish paratroopers over fields near Groesbeek, Netherlands, Sept. 18 to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden, a record-setting Allied mission that deployed more than 30,000 airborne troops and additional ground forces in a massive attempt to crush Germany during World War II.

“It is our privilege to provide the airborne portion of this commemoration,” said Lt. Col. Chris Davis, mission commander for the 165th Airlift Wing, which is the lead C-130 unit. “It is our wish that every World War II veteran, past and present, be honored by this reenactment, and to thank the ‘Greatest Generation’ for their acts of valor.”

Among the jumpers were four Georgia Air National Guard joint terminal attack controllers from the 165th Air Support Operations Squadron and six Georgia Army National Guard soldiers from the 108th Cavalry Regiment, who jumped as part of a reenactment of the September 1944 airborne assault by 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers on Drop Zone Tango.

“It was a great experience to jump with the British, Dutch and Polish paratroopers on a drop zone that had not been jumped since the DZ was active in 1944,” said Maj. Roger Brooks, a joint terminal attack controller from the 165th. “After the jump, I was honored by the reception of the town mayor and local citizens. They were thankful for the liberation of the Netherlands by allied forces.”

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A Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 banks over Groesbeek, Netherlands, Sept. 18, 2014, after deploying U.S., British, Dutch and Polish paratroopers as part of the 70th-anniversary re-enactment of Operation Market Garden. The historic World War II mission was, at the time, the largest airborne assault ever conducted. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Charles Delano)

A larger re-enactment involving more than 1,000 troops is scheduled for Sept. 20.

Photos by Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Air Force Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, the Kentucky National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for Air and commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard, executes the coin toss at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky., to begin the University of Louisville – Murray State football game Sept. 6, 2014. The game was billed as Military Appreciation Day. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer/Released)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville honored servicemembers during the U of L-Murray State football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Sept. 6. The game, billed as Military Appreciation Day, started with a coin toss executed by Air Force Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, the Kentucky National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for Air and commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard. Recruiters from the Kentucky Army and Air Guard also set up booths featuring displays of military equipment and answered questions posed by hundreds of fans.

The Cardinals defeated the Racers 66-21.

Click here to see more photos.

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Army Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, a recruiter for the Kentucky Army National Guard, speaks with a football fan outside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky., prior to the University of Louisville – Murray State football game Sept. 6, 2014. The game, billed as Military Appreciation Day, began with a coin toss executed by Air Force Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, the Kentucky National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for Air and commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer/Released)

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The University of Louisville took on Murray State University at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 6, 2014. Louisville won 66-21. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer/Released)

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Air Force Maj. Keith Smith, commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, displays EOD protective equipment to a football fan outside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky., prior to the University of Louisville – Murray State football game Sept. 6, 2014. The game, billed as Military Appreciation Day, began with a coin toss executed by Air Force Brig. Gen. Warren Hurst, the Kentucky National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for Air and commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer/Released)

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The University of Louisville football team in action against Murray State University at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 5, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

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

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Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Maggard shares a moment with her daughter and husband, Freddie Maggard, as her sister, Pfc. Logan Green looks on during Maggard’s promotion ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 12, 2014. Following the promotion, Maggard swore her sister into the Kentucky Guard. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — When the Kentucky National Guard describes itself as a family organization, it has the proof to back it up. Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Maggard’s story is a prime example.

Sept. 12, 2014 will remain a special date for the family as Maggard was promoted to chief warrant officer three in front of friends and family, just before she swore her younger sister Logan Green into the Kentucky Guard.

“I am very proud to have my sister serving with me in uniform,” said Maggard. “She has always been an enthusiastic determined young lady, not letting anyone tell her she couldn’t do something. She moved to Florida when she was three, so I have missed a lot of the special events in her life. I hope now I can be of more support to her and watch her grow into a young leader for the Kentucky Guard as well as in life.”

“Growing up I watched my sister do so much in the Kentucky Guard,” said Logan. “I watched her go to flight school and do so many other things, so I look forward to seeing where my career can take me, what I can do and the things I can do to make myself better through the Kentucky Guard.”

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Pfc. Logan Green is sworn into the Kentucky National Guard by her sister, Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Maggard during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 12, 2014. Green transferred for the Florida National Guard and will attend the University of Kentucky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Logan is a freshman at the University of Kentucky, where she plans to major in the medical field.  She’s also joined their Army ROTC program. She will simultaneously serve in the Kentucky Guard as a multiple-launch rocket system specialist as she works toward becoming an Army officer after graduation.

Maggard has served in the Kentucky Guard since 1998, enlisting as a junior in high school, which Logan did as well.  Maggard he currently works as a resource manager for the Recruiting and Retention command. She is also married to former Guardsman Freddie Maggard, who serves as the Kentucky Guard’s Community Relations Liaison.

“When I first joined the Guard I was just a family member who served in the Guard,” said Maggard. “Joined now by my husband who served, my brother and now sister who both serve, we are a true Guard family and happy to call the Kentucky National Guard home.”

The brother of the family, Spc. Doug Green works as an aviation mechanic with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation in Frankfort. He thinks it’s an honor for the siblings to be able to represent the military as well as they can as family.

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Warrant Officer Jennifer Maggard hugs her sister Logan Green during Maggard’s graduation from warrant officer candidate school in 2008. (Courtesy photo)

“I am very proud to be the older brother of these two,” Doug said. “It’s great that Logan was able to transfer up here and that all three of us are together here now in the Guard.”

“On of them already outranks me, and in a few years the other will as well,” he said. “You have to be proud of that.”

Chief Warrant Officer Dean Stoops, Kentucky’s command chief warrant officer was on hand to help promote Maggard and to welcome her sister. Stoops mentored Maggard as a young warrant officer and helped guide her into flight school. He also started his own career in artillery, like Logan, and said he feels a kinship with the family.

“It’s great to able to participate not only in an official ceremony such as this, but one that is such a family affair and in particular, one that the Guard is such a big part of it,” said Stoops.

Logan said the day began a new chapter of her relationship with her sister, and recalled times spent apart.

“We didn’t grow up together, but we’re still very close and it’s nice to know that we can look forward to the memories we’re going to make now that I’m closer. I think the connection I have with my brother and sister will just get a lot closer and stronger.”

“Some of my greatest memories I have with my sister is going to get our nails done and hanging out and being sisters and having that one-on-one time that we didn’t always have when we were growing up.”

Maggard said she look forward to the day when she has to salute her little sister, but until then she wants Logan to learn from Maggard’s experiences and build upon the basic principles of family.

“This is her career and it will be what she makes of it; she can be as successful or unsuccessful as she wants to be. Know that someone is always watching even when she thinks they are not. Most importantly to always believe in herself and know she is surrounded by family and friends who believe in her, support her, are proud of her and love her.”

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Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Maggard (center) gathers her family for a group photo following her promotion and sister, Pfc. Logan Green’s swearing in into the Kentucky National Guard in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 12, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Logan remembered that she wanted to enlist in the military since she was four-years-old, after watching her sister leave for basic training. Both sisters recalled the Disney movie “Mulan” and how it had an underlying theme of their relationship. Appropriate that a story of a strong, independent and self-sufficient girl who goes on to become a warrior is a favorite of the two.

Both shared memorable stories of seeing each other graduate from different Army schools, but this day will certainly rank high on their lists for years to come.

“I was excited that the timeline worked out that I could be to watch my sister’s big moment and be a part of it for her,” said Logan. “And excited about my other sister coming up and my brother’s here, so all four of us are together again.”

“My own family got to introduce me to the larger family of the Kentucky National Guard. It’s such a great support system and I’m so glad to be a part of it now.”

 

Story by Staff Sgt. Debralee Best, 412th Theater Engineer Command

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Sgt. John Gibbs, a Standard Army Maintenance System-Enhanced clerk with Kentucky National Guard’s 1123rd Engineer Company (Sapper) from Drakesboro, Ky., ground guides vehicles returning from situation exercise lanes. The 1123rd and a platoon from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 441st Engineer Company, route clearance, came together as one unit at National Training Center rotation 14-09 in Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 2-22. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Debralee Best)

FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Reserve and National Guard Soldiers usually train one weekend a month and two weeks a year. This training is normally not done side-by-side, but two units integrated this year for their extended combat training.

The Kentucky National Guard’s 1123rd Engineer Company, (Sapper), and a platoon from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 441st Engineer Company, route clearance, came together as one unit at National Training Center rotation 14-09 at Fort Irwin, California, Aug. 2 to 22.

“We actually had planned to have three [route clearance packages]. They were going to be the third one,” said Capt. Robert, McWhorter, 1123rd Engineer Company commander. ”They were going to bring 34 folks here, but ended up only able to bring 21 so our mission had to change and this is the neat part: we integrated them with us.”

The 441st combat engineer Soldiers we integrated into two packages as drivers and gunners. The mechanics and medics were also assigned within the 1123rd in their respective areas.

McWhorter said the change of mission was good for the 1123rd.

“For us it’s good because the 21 people they had basically get pushed into our two RCPs and that actually benefits everybody so we get to work side-by-side by them instead of mission-by-mission,” he said. 

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Spc. James McCarty (right), with the Kentucky National Guard’s 1123rd Engineer Company (Sapper) from Elizabethtown, Ky., asks Spc. William Wilson, 441st Engineer Company, route clearance, from Memphis, Tenn., about the fluid levels in their vehicle. The combat engineers worked together at the National Training Center rotation 14-09 in Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 2-22. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Debralee Best)

The 441st Soldiers said they felt accepted by the 1123rd.

“It’s a little interesting. I’ve never actually worked with National Guard, but they welcomed us with open arms from the get-go,” said U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Waters, 441st Engineer Company, platoon sergeant from Harrison, Arkansas. “What I like about them is they said, ‘I don’t want you to feel like the misfits because they’ve been in that situation themselves before.’”

Not only did the 441st feel accepted, but they saw the efforts made by the 1123rd for their integration. 

“They accepted us with open arms. As soon as we got boots-on-ground in the box they put us in like they were one of theirs,” said U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Matthew Cooper, Field Maintenance Platoon, 441st Engineer Company, mechanic and vehicle recovery specialist, from Brighton, Tennessee. “I can’t complain. Capt. McWhorter is doing his best to make us feel at home and so are the [noncommissioned officers].” 

McWhorter said he isn’t surprised the 441st was able to integrate so well. He attributes it to the cordiality of his Soldiers.

“We’re from Kentucky so that’s like hospitality 101,” he said. “They’re just honing skills they already had.”

While the units integrated well, they did have some growing pains while on missions.

“The question we had asked is, ‘hey, guys, how’s it going?’ and I think because it was [so early in the training], they said, ‘well, we’re still working it out. It’s still confusing who belongs to who, who is doing what.’ I think that makes sense. You have to build muscle memory,” said McWhorter. “When they actually showed up we had drawn 90 percent of the equipment. We were already there for a whole day and then they show up. We’re like, ‘alright, cool, all of our minds are blown. Let’s just go to sleep.’ Then we wake up and are trying to meld. So coming out here, having the couple days to set, I’d say if I asked the question again it would be a little more straight-forward to say, ‘we’re not confused because we’ve been on route clearance missions, we know who each other are now.’” 

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One of two route clearance packages consisting of Soldiers from the Kentucky National Guard’s 1123rd Engineer Company, (Sapper), and a platoon from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 441st Engineer Company, route clearance, return from a situational exercise lane at National Training Center rotation 14-09 in Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 2 to 22. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Debralee Best)

After a few missions, the units did work out the kinks.

“I think they’re becoming a team,” said Waters. “They’ve been out running mission and it always takes a few days to get to know people, understand where they’re coming from. There is always that concern your going to butt heads with people at certain points, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of that. From what I’ve seen, they work pretty decent together.” 

While becoming a team is important, the training received is essential because the units need the experience.

“You’ve got two companies where 40 percent of the experienced people left. Now you’ve got 60 percent of the folks who, including me and most of my lieutenants, are new,” said McWhorter. “So, I think that’s actually a great place for us to be because we’re all learning together.”

Not only will this training help prepare the inexperienced units, but it is also helps the units learn to work with other components and other services.

“I think it’s beneficial to work with National Guard, active duty, Marines, other coalition forces, because you don’t know who you’re going to be integrated with, especially in an RCP,” said Waters. “You’ve got to be able to understand and develop relationships with all different types of military units.”

McWhorter said he also believes building relationships is important, but he thinks the Soldiers of the 441st who didn’t attend the training at NTC will be disappointed they didn’t build those relationships and attend the training during this exercise.

“What I’m looking forward to is seeing the training value of this place because I’ve heard it’s great, I’ve heard stories about it. We are at the end of a long road. I think both these units are going walk away a lot better,” said McWhorter. “Then for 441st when they go home they’re going to have a really strong RCP platoon and they’re going to benefit and the others are going to wish they went.”

But, Waters has been so impressed by the training that he is already planning to try to bring the rest of company to NTC.

“I know these guys are getting good training out here. It’s going to be good for the unit when we get back. What I’m hoping for is that we bring this training back to the 441st Engineer Company and bring back some different ideas we’ve gathered from the 1123rd and we can move forward in getting prepared for a deployment,” said Waters. “Getting better prepared for actually deployment, then hopefully within a couple years, maybe we can bring the company out here as a whole.”

 

Guardsman: Resiliency training improved my life

On September 15, 2014, in Kentucky National Guard, by scottraymond1

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

This is part III of a three-part series on the Kentucky National Guard’s Resiliency Training Assistant Course conducted for Guardsmen returning from deployment.

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Sgt. Gary Fosyth II, a carpentry masonry sergeant assigned to the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, gets to know Sargent, an American Draft Horse during Resilience Trainer Assistant training Aug. 13, at the Central Kentucky Riding for Hope barn in Lexington, Kentucky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson)

LEXINGTON, Ky.–When Sgt. Gary Forsyth II was given orders to attend the Kentucky National Guard’s Resilience Trainer Assistant course at the Central Kentucky Riding for Hope’s barn in Lexington, Kentucky, he was nervous. The thought of working with an animal seven times his size was intimidating. Not to mention, he wasn’t thrilled about talking about his feelings and he already had his mind made up, he was resilient enough.

“I don’t usually spend time around horses,” Forsyth said. “I was put off by it at first. I know now that I would not have liked the training any other way.”

The week-long course was developed by the University of Pennsylvania and adopted by the Army Resilience Program.

“Being around the horses helped me personally relax and get comfortable with the training principles,” he said, “and with the horses in general.”

For Forsyth, getting comfortable has been somewhat of a struggle since his return from Afghanistan in December 2013. While deployed, he was a carpentry masonry sergeant with the 149th Vertical Construction Company.

“When I returned to my employer after my deployment to Afghanistan, I was assigned to a different division with a new product line,” he said.

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Sgt Gary Forsyth a vertical engineer with the149th hangs blue lights outside of his living quarters in Afghanistan to show support for daughter Norah, and for the “Light it up Blue” campaign raising awareness for autism. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. John Rader)

Forsyth said it was hard to stay on task or even stay positive about the move.

“My previous position was so fulfilling, I was disappointed with the new assignment,” he said.

Like people do, every day, Forsyth began focusing on the negative. Things won’t change. They moved me ‘cause I was gone too long. They don’t want me here. I don’t work hard enough for them. I’m never going to be happy with my work and career. To top it all off, I go home to Gena and the kids and I can’t fix their problems either. It’s hard watching your child struggle with Autism. I can’t bring this stuff home too. Life’s not fair. It’s really got something out for me.

Forsyth was deep in thinking traps, he was catastrophizing.

This toxic spiral is what senior Army leaders hope to combat with Soldiers across the ranks. For decades, physicians have concluded that combat is a major stressor, but daily life struggles also wear on the mind, which is the Soldier’s most important feature. This toxic spiral is exactly what the Kentucky Guard’s RTA program helps attendees and leaders recognize.

No leader is more of a champion for the RTA than Capt. Rob Cooley, Kentucky’s program coordinator.

“This training has the potential to be life changing,” Cooley said.

“I’ve had the pleasure of reading more than 600 end of course surveys,” he said. “I lost count of how many Soldiers have added comments to the effect of: ‘this course has made my life better.’

“My goal is to get this training to as many of our Soldiers, Airmen and Family members as possible,” Cooley said.

The training, according to Forsyth, isn’t about being happy and staying happy. It’s unrealistic, he said, to think that an individual has no problems that weigh on their mind.

“I recognized the thinking traps and patterns that promoted the negative attitude I had during work,” he said.

“It helps you recognize activating events, what they are and how they affect you,” he said.

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Sgt. Ronald Forsyth II was killed in a motor vehicle accident in 2012. (Courtesy photo)

One of those events was the death of his cousin, Sgt. Ronald Forsyth II, a fellow Kentucky Guardsman killed in a car accident in Devils Lake, North Dakota September 13, 2012.

“The training helped me see the loss and instead of letting it control my behaviors, actions or attitude, I can put it into perspective and still have a positive day,” he said. “I highly recommend this training for any Soldier who experienced a loss.”

Over the last month, since attending the RTA course, Forsyth said his attitude has changed. It’s skills he’s able to use at home and at work to make his day better – but most importantly, lessons he can use with his subordinates and peers in his unit.

“I think every leader at all levels needs to go through this training,” he said. “If anyone questions whether or not this helps Soldiers, they will know that it certainly does.”

 

Story by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

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Air Force Master Sgt. Wayne Reeser (right), a loadmaster from the 123rd Airlift Wing, talks with a paratrooper from the Royal Canadian Regiment at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, just before a Kentucky C-130 Hercules aircraft transports the paratroopers and other NATO forces into the Baltic region Sept. 5, 2014, as part of Operation Sabre Junction.. The Kentucky Air National Guard is participating in the operation along with five other Air National Guard Units and forces from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The 123rd Airlift Wing is demonstrating its airlift capabilities during Operation Saber Junction, a NATO exercise being conducted here with 5,800 troops from 17 NATO countries.

More than 20 Kentucky Airmen arrived at Ramstein Aug. 31 and will support daily flight operations with two Kentucky C-130 Hercules aircraft through Sept. 9.

“Saber Junction is a great way to demonstrate the interoperability of NATO forces and a great opportunity to work and train with our NATO Allies” said Lt. Col. Kathryn Newell, aircraft commander for the Kentucky Air National Guard. “It is a privilege to take part in such a crucial exercise.”

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A Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 123rd Airlift Wing sits on the flight line at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, awaiting the paratroopers it will carry to the Baltic region Sept. 5, 2014, in support of Operation Saber Junction. The U.S. and 16 other NATO allies are participating in the operation, designed to strengthen the partnerships and interoperability of NATO forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

Saber Junction 14 prepares U.S. troops, NATO Allies and European security partners to conduct joint, offensive, defensive and stabilization operations, and to sustain cooperative efforts with partner nations.

Air National Guard units from Kentucky, California, Delaware, Illinois and Missouri are providing personnel and equipment air drops in support of airfield-seizure and forcible entry operations, Newell said.

Master Cpl. Chris Leedham, weapons detachment commander for Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, said he was pleased to be participating in an operation that builds such strong partnerships between allies.

“This experience of interoperability with such a capable international fighting force is professionally spectacular,” he said.

Leedham made that comment just before he parachuted out of a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft as part of airfield-seizure training in the Baltics.

Leedham and the Royal Canadian Regiment were accompanied by U.S. Army Airborne paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy, and paratroopers from the Italian Army’s 186th Parachute Regiment.

All U.S. efforts in support of NATO partners in Europe, including Saber Junction, fall under the umbrella of Operation Atlantic Resolve. Saber Junction is taking place in the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and serves to demonstrate the effectiveness of U.S. and allied forces to achieve their objectives in a dynamic training environment, officials said.

Kentucky Guard promotes state chaplain

On September 10, 2014, in chaplain, Kentucky National Guard, by scottraymond1

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

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Lt. Col. Yong Cho, state chaplain for the Kentucky National Guard is promoted to the rank of colonel by his wife Lydia and Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams III during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 3, 2014. In addition to Cho’s responsibilities to the Kentucky Guard, he also pastors full-time at his church in Radcliff, Ky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — It’s not everyday you see a Korean, Southern Baptist pastor in Kentucky. Col. Yong Cho knows this and can laugh about how odd it seems. As the state chaplain for Kentucky’s 8500 Guardsmen, Cho’s work to provide religious support is anything but unusual.

“You don’t find many Korean Southern Baptists,” he said. “But when we moved to Kentucky and I saw all the Southern Baptists churches, I thought I had come home, even if I had never been here before. I am very happy to call Kentucky home and honored to supervise and to provide spiritual leadership for the Kentucky National Guard.”

The 55-year-old Cho was promoted to the rank of colonel during a ceremony in Frankfort, Sept. 3. He has served the Kentucky Guard since 1996 as a traditional (part-time) Guardsmen while pastoring at his church full-time in Racliff, Kentucky and was named state chaplain in October of 2013.

“The military has really helped me to grow spiritually and mature as a preacher.”

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams III was on hand to promote Cho and spoke of a chaplain’s vocation as one that demands conviction and commitment.

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Maj. Yong Cho visits with Kentucky Guardsmen in Kuwait in 2006. Cho has served the Kentucky National Guard since 1996, a year after commissioning as a chaplain. (Courtesy photo)

“As the state chaplain, he is going to provide the wisdom and the guidance, both for the chaplains in the state and for our Guardsmen,” said Adams. “He will certainly wear this rank with distinction and honor and will be a great role model for this within our Guard family and for those moving up through the ranks.”

Born in the Republic of Korea, Cho’s father moved his family to the United States in 1979, living in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia before settling in California. It was his father’s recommendation to join the military, to learn the American culture.

After spending time in the Army as an infantryman, stationed in Korea and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Cho returned to California to work as an engineer in Silicon Valley. It was there that he received his call from God to preach.

Cho found his way back to Kentucky through attendance at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, from which he graduated with a doctorate in philosophy. He then put his experience in the military together with his preaching and re-entered the Army as a chaplain candidate in 1993 with the Army Reserves, commissioning as a chaplain in 1995.

“I humbly accepted God’s calling and have really enjoyed my work with so many families in need and Soldiers with issues.”

In 1996, Cho was recruited by then state chaplain Roger Dill into the Kentucky Guard. Cho remembered Dill describing the Guard as much more close-knit than other components, which appealed to Cho and he happily transferred.

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Maj. Yong Cho with Soldiers of the 2113th Transportation Company during the unit’s pre-mobilzation training at the Wendell H. Ford Training Center in Greenville, Ky., in 2009. (Courtesy photo)

“He told me that the Guard was a family-oriented organization and he promised me that as a National Guard chaplain, I would have more time with Soldiers and the families. He was right.”

“I love the Kentucky National Guard,” said Cho. “They accepted me as a chaplain and as a family member.”

As the state chaplain, Cho is responsible for supervising the religious programs for the Kentucky Guard, evaluating the recruiting and training of the state’s chaplains and chaplain’s assistants, and other matters related to the Kentucky’s Chaplain Corps. He advises the adjutant general on the morale of the Kentucky Guard as well.

“I am the eyes and ears of the morals, ethics and religious matters of the Soldiers and Airmen of the Kentucky National Guard, so I support the religious programs of the state for the adjutant general.”

After more than 20 years of service in the Army, Cho knows he only has so many years left in uniform. He said he would gladly stay for as long as the Kentucky Guard would let him.

Cho and his wife are looking forward to the time when they can spend more time with their church, see more of their children and travel together, but until then, Cho enjoys his role as a religious provider for the Guard.

“A chaplain can really impact a Soldier’s life. we can share the happiness or bitterness and truly try to help them.”

 

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

This is part II of a three-part series on the Kentucky National Guard’s Resiliency Training Assistant Course conducted for Guardsmen returning from deployment.

John Wells, Ashe Parker at MRTA

John Wells and Ashe Parker, actors from Kentucky, paid a visit to the Kentucky Guard’s Resiliency Training Assistant Course in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 13, 2014. As part of the resiliency course, Wells and Parker were asked to speak to Soldiers about their struggles in life and careers. (Photo courtesy of Capt. Rob Cooley)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — When you’re in a tactical situation, preparing for battle, you want first-hand knowledge of lessons learned based upon the experience of other leaders who have been there, done that. It’s what keeps the American warfighter in the forefront of today’s fight – what separates us from the rest.

Resilience is no different.

“Resilience is the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges, and bounce back from adversity,” said Capt. Rob Cooley, Resilience Program Coordinator for the Kentucky National Guard.

Cooley knows about adversity. The father of a special needs son, he’s had his fair share of ups and downs. A former Navy Corpsman and veteran, he’s seen his fair share of traumatic incidents and rendered aide to severely ill and wounded personnel.

But when you sit in one of his Resilience Trainer Assistant programs, hosted at the Central Kentucky Riding for Hope barn in Lexington, Cooley won’t inundate you with his own “woah is me,” stories, even though he could fill up the entire 40-hour course with his own experiences. What he brings to the table is something a little different.

Capt. Rob Cooley

Capt. Rob Cooley leads a horse as part of the equine training incorporated into the Kentucky Guard’s Resiliency Training Assistant Course in Lexington, Ky., Aug 11, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Wood)

“It’s impossible to put a price tag on the value of the experience,” he said about the course, which is the only one in the country that uses equine therapy and regional guest speakers to augment the daily lesson plans.

The class gets daily hands-on experience with basic horsemanship and conducts exercises with CKRH horses that compliment lessons from the previous day or subjects that the students will discuss later in the day. Cooley said participants connect with the animal and enable the concepts and skill sets taught in class to come to life.

“Horses are curious and highly receptive animals,” he said. “For a student to successfully connect with a horse, they have to regulate their emotions which is what this course helps you to understand better.“

Guardsmen in the class must practice self-awareness and self-regulation to connect and communicate with their 1,300-pound partners. It encourages the principles Cooley and his instructors teach throughout the week: optimistic thinking, mental flexibility and character strengths that impact a person’s thought processes.

While the horses provide a unique lesson in self-awareness, Cooley’s other go-to is a short list of regional celebrities and guest speakers who are strategically selected for particular audiences.

“Our speakers strengthen the overall (lesson plan) and amplifies the power of self awareness,” he said. “Sometime our students see a little bit of themselves in the speakers.”

Cooley recently invited Kentucky actors John Wells and Ashe Parker, stars of the newly released Piranha Sharks, a film directed by Leigh Scott, to talk to a Resilience class. Most of the students were public affairs specialists from the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Wells is a self-described introvert who doesn’t like public speaking or getting in front of a crowd. The anxiety stems from his childhood, where he said he was the “fat weird kid in the corner drawing pictures.

“I didn’t have many friends, so it was always the comic books and movies, anything that would take my mind to a different world,” he said. “I was 100 pounds overweight when I graduated high school, which was a whole other battle I had to fight and overcome. So, when you come from a background such as that, it is easy to sink.”

Wells said acting became his escape. Through the camera he had an excuse to be someone else, anyone else.

“Some actors measure success by their credits, the number of movies or roles, the number of stars they share a screen with,” said Wells. “But to me, ultimately I measure success if you’re happy; if you’re happy living your life.”

Michael Hayes at MRTA

Michael Hayes, Ohio Valley Wrestling Champion and former U.S. Army Soldier speaks to Guardsmen during resilience training in Lexington, Ky., Aug. 14, 2014. Hayes lost his left leg in an improvised explosive device attack while serving in Iraq in 2006. (Photo courtesy of Capt. Rob Cooley)

For Sgt. Cody Stagner, a public affairs noncommissioned officer with the 133rd MPAD, Wells’ story really hit close to home.

“It was easy to relate to his story,” Stagner said. “We both struggle with low self esteem, but live in a world that doesn’t always allow that part of us to be seen on the outside.

“It’s easy to fixate on something you’re good at to release,” Stagner said. “It’s good to see someone who is similar to yourself be so successful. It reminds you of your own humility.”

Wells told the Soldiers in the Resilience class that failure is not always what it seems. With numerous ‘no calls,’ or roles not won, Wells has seen plenty of letdowns.

“Every failure can be a success if you look at it hard enough.” he said. “Especially in acting. You try, you fail, you try, you fail, you try until eventually you succeed. So essentially, all of those failures are steps leading to your success.“

For Parker, acting was just something that fell into her lap; and at the most important time. She started her first role seven days after her dad died of a terminal illness.

“I had been back and forth for 14 months every weekend to see my dad,” she said, “I just threw myself into acting.”

The acting helped her cope and stay out of depression, and has helped her get to a place in her life where she is happy.

“I work a full time job at Coca-Cola as an administrator; I’m a single mom. If my career takes off, that’s great. If it don’t, I’m fine,” she told the Soldiers. “I’m happy and that’s all that matters.”

For Cooley, he said he’s happy to see the reactions on Guardsmen’s faces when they get to interact with regional celebrities who share similar interests, struggles and achievements.

“Having speakers such as John and Ashe come in and talk about their experiences, whether by ways of struggles, set-backs, successes or battles, is another way to bring to life the skills we teach in our RTA,” he said. “And it reminds our Guardsmen that they aren’t alone out there, others have been there before.”

Wells said he’s grateful for the experience shared with the Kentucky Guardsmen conducting RTA.

“It’s a genuine honor and blessing to have had the opportunity to sit with some of the brave men and women from our community,” he said. “In my travels I’ve learned first hand that Kentucky produces some of the most honorable and caring individuals, and these Soldiers are examples of our state’s finest.”

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

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Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini (left), Kentucky’s adjutant general, presents Chief Master Sgt. James Smith, the Kentucky National Guard’s outgoing state command chief, with Smith’s retirement certificate during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on July 12, 2014. Smith served in the Air National Guard for more than 36 years. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joshua Horton)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After more than 36 years of service to the Kentucky Air National Guard, Chief Master Sgt. James Smith, the outgoing command chief master sergeant for the state of Kentucky, was retired in a ceremony held here July 12.

Smith received the Legion of Merit medal during the ceremony, making him the first state command chief in Air Guard history to receive the nation’s seventh highest military honor.

“During his 37 years, he spanned the globe making both his unit and Guard look good wherever he went,” said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general. “He’s provided me counsel, guidance, ideas and, more than any of that, a real can-do attitude. I could bounce ideas off Jim and know that he would give me an honest assessment in his professional opinion. Jim, I can’t tell you how much it’s meant to have a go-to guy like you, especially with so many moving parts at both the state and national level.”

Smith enlisted in the Kentucky Air National Guard in September 1977 as an aircrew life support specialist. In 1989, he became the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 165th Airlift Squadron’s Life Support Section and guided the unit’s personnel to excellence. The section received the highest rating of “outstanding” on three consecutive Air Mobility Command higher-headquarters inspections, with the team being singled out as “exceptional performers” every time. Smith held this position until his selection as the state command chief in 2010.

Smith’s duties as Kentucky’s top enlisted Airman included advising the adjutant general on enlisted-force morale, welfare, training and utilization; and evaluating the quality of non-commissioned officer leadership, management and supervisory training. He was an integral day-to-day member of the adjutant general’s senior staff, overseeing the needs and concerns of the state’s enlisted corps.

“As a chief, Jim truly was an advocate for Air Guard troops,” Tonini told the audience of family friends and co-workers gathered in the Base Annex. “He looked out for all of you and made sure that our Airmen got what they needed. Jim would brag about the thousands of amazing missions and accomplishments our Kentucky Airmen were executing all over the world through his entire career. Jim was there for you and was always there for me.”

Smith deployed extensively to multiple locations throughout his career, supporting Operations Southern Watch, Restore Hope, Joint Forge, Coronet Oak, Volant Oak, Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

“Jim, you and your family have made such great contributions to the Kentucky Air National Guard,” Tonini said. “You will be missed, but your love and devotion will always be felt with each Airman who serves in our wing. You have a great legacy; one that you and we can be very proud of. I salute you and thank your for your service to the commonwealth and to the nation.”

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Moore assumed responsibilities as the state’s newest command chief master sergeant on July 11.

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

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Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Moore became Kentucky’s eighth state command chief master sergeant in July, bringing 32 years of Air Force knowledge and experience to the position. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — In 2000, after 17 years in the active-duty Air Force, Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Moore found an opportunity to return home, and to stay in uniform, beginning the next chapter of his military career.

While serving at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, Moore heard about the need for ammunition specialists in the Kentucky Air National Guard. The Gallatin County, Kentucky-native jumped at the chance to find a stable place to continue serving, stop the every two-year change of station, and be close to family.

It was decision that would lead him to the highest ranking enlisted position for the Kentucky Air Guard, the state command chief master sergeant.

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Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Moore passes the Air Guard flag to Master Sgt. Monte Goldring, completing the change of responsibility ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., July 11, 2014. Moore succeeded Chief Master Sgt. James Smith as Kentucky’s state command chief master sergeant. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“Without a doubt, this has to to be the highlight of my career,” he said. “This is the highest you can achieve, and I ‘m proud to be here.”

Moore assumed the role during a change of responsibility ceremony in Frankfort in July. He succeeded Chief Master Sgt. James Smith who had held the title since 2010.

Enlisting straight out of high school, Moore followed a strong family tradition of military service. As an ammunition specialist, Moore would see eight different bases in his 17 years working on several classified projects along the way.

When the National Guard Bureau sent out announcements for ammunition specialists to train Air Guard units, Moore noticed that the 123rd Airlift Wing in Louisville, Kentucky was one in need. It was an easy decision he said, but a reluctant one.

“My opinion initially of the Guard wasn’t very high,” he said. “After so many years active-duty, the atmosphere was a little loose for my taste, but it didn’t take long before the dedication and work ethic of the Wing showed me the Guard was and is a critical part of the force.”

“It has to be the best move of my life, coming to the Guard.”

Moore recalled how everything changed when 9/11 happened, roughly a year after he joined the 123rd. Moore said the Guard changed as well, for the better. He recalled the consistency that Guard units have developed thanks to Airmen sticking with the same job and the same unit for years, not changing locations every couple years like active-duty units and remaining a part of overseas operations.

“Active duty just couldn’t compete with them,” he said. “They’re moving every other year, and we have Airmen staying for 20 years or more. Those guys know the C-130 like the back of their hands.”

“I’d put the Guard up against anybody, that’s my opinion now.”

Moore has served numerous deployment overseas throughout his career with roles in support of Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom, partially because he remembers always volunteering for assignments.

“That is what we are trained and paid to do. When you sign that dotted line you can go anywhere in the world. You train your whole life and that’s what it’s about.”

Moore’s quality service to the Guard has earned him a variety of awards and honors including being named the Kentucky Air Guard’s Outstanding NCO of the Year in 2001 and Outstanding First Sergeant of the Year in 2007. In his new position as the state’s command chief master sergeant, Moore expects to use what he has learned to act accordingly as the ranking enlisted Airman.

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Moore

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Moore’s role as Kentucky’s state command chief master sergeant is an integral day-to-day member of the adjutant general’s senior staff, overseeing the needs and concerns of the state’s enlisted corps and is a vocal advocate on their behalf. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Moore’s biggest goal in his tenure is to ensure Airmen are taking advantage of education programs and are aware of future opportunities. He said he aims to also make sure each Airman’s record properly reflects their education achievements.

During Moore’s time as a first sergeant within the 123rd he learned and enjoyed helping and taking care of Guardsmen. Showing them what’s out there as a future opportunity is something Moore will continue to do. He wants to let them know just how many chances there are to do something different and something rewarding, from the lowest level on up.

“You see the Guard in key positions in the military now and in a few years, you’ll see a Guardsman as the chief master sergeant of the Air Force,” he said. “I think the future is great for our young Airmen.”

“I will tell them all, focus on your education, know your opportunities and be ahead of the game. Never be the one they’re waiting on, always be waiting on them.”

After 32 years, Moore has remained ahead of his game, but knows it’s about time to hang up the uniform. He already looks forward to spending more time in his community and with family and friends. And just like 1982, when he enlisted and kept the Moore name on an Air Force uniform, he now enjoys following the careers of a son and daughter both serving in the 123rd.

“It makes me happy that they would  join, maybe because of me, I don’t know. I didn’t push them, they made their own choices and I couldn’t be more proud.”

While he hopes the Moore name goes on forever in the military, he will focus on his work at hand for his remaining years with simple ideas.

“Leave it better than you came, that’s my goal.”