Kentucky’s able aviators

On February 1, 2016, in Kentucky National Guard, by scottraymond1

By Maj. Stephen Martin, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Kentucky's Able Aviators

Fifteen members of the Kentucky National Guard’s 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade have accumulated 4,000 military flight hours or more in their career. The Bluegrass Chapter of The Army Aviation Association of America has recognized these aviation Soldiers for their accomplishment. Pictured from LEFT to RIGHT: Chief Warrant Officer 4 Porter Whitney, Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Boyle, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Mattingly, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tony Villier, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steve Bowling, Command Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dean Stoops, Staff Sgt. Daryl Casey, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Harold Grider, Col. Brian Abney (State Army Aviation Officer), Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steve Knight, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Shawn Gabhart, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Stuart Lindfors, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gerald Carroll, 1st Sgt. Matt Singer, 1st Sgt. Troy Logsdon, Lt. Col. Dewayne Lewis. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky National Guard’s Army aviation community is steeped in history. From their arrival in 1959 at the Capital City Airport in Frankfort, Ky. through being the first National Guard unit in the country assigned Blackhawks, Kentucky’s aviation Soldiers have remained at the forefront of their career field.

Fifteen members of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade have 4,000 military flight hours or more. They represent a wealth of aviation experience which few aviation formations can match. Because of this, The Bluegrass Chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad A) took time to recognize these Soldiers for their accomplishments.

To see photos of these Army Aviators in action over the years, please click HERE.

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The Kentucky National Guard said farewell to their C-23 Sherpas during a ceremony at Capital City Airport in Frankfort, Ky., July 9, 2013. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“The Kentucky Guard aviation community is recognized by any measurable metric as one of the finest aviation organizations in any component of the Army,” said Col. Brian Abney, State Army Aviation Officer. “These 15 Soldiers are indicative of the quality of our program here in Kentucky for sure…  The flying hour milestones that these individuals have reached remain a notable accomplishment for any organization and I am especially proud of this group of aviation professionals.”

An old aviator’s quote says, “You can always take off, but you can’t always land…” An axiom like this reminds all flyers the cost of the profession and the decisions that need to be made on a regular basis.

Collectively these 15 aviation Soldiers have accumulated in excess of 80,000 flight hours without a Class A, B or C accident and an average time in service of more than 28 years.

What does this mean to the Kentucky Guard?

For one, the safety record of the Kentucky Army National Guard is unparalleled.  Indeed, the Kentucky Guard has not experienced a Class A or B Army accident since 1970.  A time frame which encompasses multiple combat tours and numerous overseas deployments with more than 250,000 flight hours flown on a variety of different types of aircraft. This can be attributed to the level of experience that the troops in this profession boast.

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C Co 2/238th MEDEVAC conducts personnel recovery (PR) operations over the Northern Arabian Gulf (NAG) Oct. 10, 2013. The unit is qualifying all army aviation crewmembers on overwater hoist PR while on deployment. This was conducted as a joint training exercise with a sister flight company who deployed the Navy EOD teams into the water via HeloCast and were recovered by the MEDEVAC aircraft. (photo submitted)

Regarding combat flight time exclusively, these 15 aviation Soldiers have accumulated 10,000 hours across a combined total of 30 deployments since 9/11. These high flyers have flown in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Kuwait, not to mention Europe, South America and Central Asia among other locations.

Considerably, these operations couldn’t be accomplished without the crew-chiefs,  administrative  and supply personnel. It’s a coordinated effort to get a multi-million dollar aircraft airborne. That’s why it’s equally impressive that three of the Soldiers on this list are enlisted crew-chiefs.

“Everybody plays a part, from the maintenance guys giving us a safe aircraft to operations ensuring we are safe to the crews executing the mission,” said 1st Sgt. Matt Singer, Company C., 1st Battalion 376th Aviation. ” 4,000 flight hours requires a whole lot more than 4,000 hours of work on the part of a lot of folks.”

“We may not go to flight school, but we can certainly give beneficial technical or tactical advice from a different point of view… in addition to providing comic relief and stinging sarcasm, which is required of all crew chiefs.”

63rd TAB Command Sgt. Major Bill Stocker talks about the significance of the enlisted Soldiers accomplishments.

“Crew-Chief’s in this community are the unsung heroes of aviation. These ‘part-time’ Guardsmen have the same requirements as their active duty counterparts and are held to the same standard. They are required to make sure the aircraft is in good working order especially after the officers upfront do their level-best to break the thing.”

Stocker points out that these service members are charged with both the fight abroad on behalf of the nation as well as providing support to the commonwealth. “Their experience level is kept here in this organization and is not turned over every three years. This is crucial to accomplishing the mission the way we do.”

“This band of brothers are great mentors for the next generation of crew-members and in showing us what right looks like. They are an invaluable commodity for this brigade,” said Stocker. “The Kentucky National Guard’s Army enlisted aviation community will reap the rewards of their hard work and commitment for years to come.”

Kentucky's Able Aviators

Chief Warrant Officers Bowling and Johnston pose just after they land an OH-58 A/C helicopter on Canal Street in New Orleans, La. in support of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Fifteen members of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade have 4,000 military flight hours or more. This photo represents the storied history of that endeavor.(Photo courtesy of the 63rd TAB aviation community)

Chief Warrant Officer Steve Bowling offered up a piece of advice to new Soldiers entering the field.

“Today’s young aviators are better equipped than ever before, the new facilities are top notch, and the aircraft are awesome.  The new aviator skill level with the newest systems are better than they have ever been. The Guard has done a great job of equipping the force for the future.  In addition the amount of trust we can place on the younger folks has never wavered.  They are as good as ever in my experience.”

“However being an old guy I still want them to know how to do things ‘the old fashioned way’ for when the new and improved stuff breaks. GPS is great but I still want to know I can pull out the old ‘HHM’ (Hand Held Map) and we all make it home at the end of the day safe.”

“Those are the things the REAL old guys taught me.”

 

Order from highest to lowest amount of hours: Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Boyle, 9,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5 Harold Grider, 7,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gerald Carroll, 6,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Mattingly, 5,000 hours;  Lt. Col. Dwayne Lewis, 5,000 hours;  Command Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dean Stoops, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steve Knight, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5 Stuart Lindfors, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Porter Whitney, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 5  Steve Bowling, 5,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Shawn Gabhart, 5,000 hours;  1st Sgt. Troy Logsdon, 4,000 hours;  1st Sgt. Matt Singer, 4,000 hours;  Staff Sgt. Daryl Casey, 4,000 hours;  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tony Villier, 4,000 hours.

Kentucky Guardsmen recipient of new home

On January 29, 2016, in Kentucky National Guard, by scottraymond1

By Olivia Burton, Kentucky National Guard Family Programs

SSG Shackelford

Staff Sgt. Cade Shackelford with his girlfriend Erin Diaz and their 7 month old daughter Isabella outside their new home. Home Builders Care, the nonprofit arm of The Home Builders Association of Lexington dedicated the “Home for a Veteran” to Shackelford and his new family Jan. 25, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. (Photo Credit: HBA, HBC)]

LEXINGTON, Ky. — On a cold January day in Lexington, a Kentucky veteran and his family felt nothing but warmth as they stepped into their brand new home. Staff Sgt. Cade Shackelford with his girlfriend Erin Diaz and their 7-month-old daughter Isabella were chosen for the “Home for a Veteran” building project.

Spearheading the effort was Home Builders Care, a non-profit arm of the Home Builders Association of Lexington. With immense community support, donated labor and materials, a veteran and his family earned the low-mortgage home to honor his service to the United States Military.

City council members, volunteers and friends took part in a dedication ceremony to present this new home to Shackelford and his family.

“It’s hard to believe that we broke ground on this new home on the hottest day of the year last summer and here we are today after a sizeable snow storm,” said David Briggs, President of the Home Builders Association of Lexington. “We are truly honored to provide this home to Cade and his family.”

Shackelford is an active member of the Kentucky National Guard who served in several overseas tours in the Middle East. He is currently serving as a military police officer with the 940th Military Police Company and plans to remain in service until his retirement.

“Saying thank you sometimes you just can’t put into words,” he said. “What everybody has done, what time they’ve donated, what materials they’ve donated, I just can’t express the amount of gratitude that me and my family have for you guys. From the bottom of my heart, from my family to yours, thank you.”

Click here to watch the dedication ceremony in its entirety.

Photos of the dedication event and the home can be found here.

Desert Storm’s 25th anniversary

On January 15, 2016, in Kentucky National Guard, by scottraymond1

Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Staff Report

Summary of the Kentucky National Guard in the Persian Gulf War 1990-91

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Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery move supplies and equipment along the Iraqi border during Operation Desert Storm, Feb. 27, 1991. As one of the few National Guard combat arms units deployed to the theater, the 623rd provided fire support for coalition forces during the conflict. (Kentucky National Guard historical photo)

It’s been 25 years since the United States first went to war in the Persian Gulf. Aug. 2, 1990 saw the invasion of Kuwait by neighboring Iraq, an event that both shocked and outraged the world. Spearheading a 21-member United Nations coalition, the United States initiated Operation Desert Shield, the largest military buildup since the Vietnam War.

On Jan. 17, 1991, Americans at home watched as Operation Desert Shield turned into a Desert Storm. A six-week air campaign preceded what came to be known as “The One-Hundred Hour War,” leading to the swift liberation of Kuwait.

Click here for more historical photos.

Once again Kentuckians found themselves on the forefront of the assault. From Fort Campbell came the 101st Airborne Division, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and the 5th Special Forces Group. Fort Knox sent elements of its 194th Separate Armor Brigade. Together, the two bases sent 21,500 men and women into battle.

Because of the size and intensity of the planned offensive, reserve components from all over Kentucky were called to duty, performing such diverse missions as ensuring the transportation and accountability of equipment and supplies, providing direct fire support, battlefield medical support and refugee relief, water purification, film and video documentation of military actions, security and handling of prisoners of war. Some reservists served as replacements for active duty units called to action.

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Members of the 475th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) stand outside their tent in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, 1991. (Courtesy photo)

Kentucky can be especially proud of the 1078 Kentucky Army National Guardsmen and women who went to the desert and performed valiantly during Desert Storm.

They were Soldiers with the following units: 137th Transportation Det., 217th Quartermaster Det., 2123rd Transportation Co., 475th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH), 133rd Public Affairs Det., 223rd and 438th Military Police Companies.

Batteries of Kentucky’s 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery served as one of the few National Guard combat arms units activated.

Nearly 400 National Guard units were activated with nearly 40,000 Guardsmen serving in theater.

During the offensive, Kentucky Guard artillery was given the mission of providing fire support for the coalition forces while heavy equipment transportation traveled as far as the Euphrates carrying the load for the advancing troops. Military police personnel processed thousands of enemy prisoners of war and our Mobile Army Surgical Hospital cared for the ill and injured during a post-war humanitarian relief effort.

Back home the C-130’s of the 123rd Tactical Airlift Wing moved personnel and equipment throughout the U.S. in support of Desert Storm, while our engineers assisted in a variety of state and local projects.

U.S. Army Reserve units deployed from Kentucky included the 100th Division, the 807th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, the 888th Medical Detachment, and the 5010th Army Hospital.

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Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm, Jan-April, 1991. The artillery unit was one of eight Kentucky units activated for service during the conflict. (Kentucky National Guard historical photo)

In all, 23,210 Kentucky Service members from both the active and reserve forces served in Southwest Asia.

“Serving in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm was a very rewarding experience for me as a young officer in the Kentucky National Guard,” said Lt. Col. Allen Boone, who served as a lieutenant with the 623rd at the time.” In less than three years after joining the nationally recognized 623rd Field Artillery, I found myself halfway around the world with some of the finest men in the United States Armed Forces.”

“It was an honor for me to serve in operations which proved to be one of the greatest examples of military power by U.S. Armed Forces in the history of our nation.  The years of strategic planning, followed by equipping and properly training personnel for military operations was executed with effective precision in the first 100 hours of ground combat.”

“The motto of the 623rd is “Seize the Opportunity” and it’s Soldiers who served in the Civil War through Iraq and Afghanistan continue a legacy of professional service to our nation at home and around the world.”

PERSIAN GULF WAR TIMELINE (May 1990 – April 1991)

1990 – May 28-30: Iraqi president Saddam Hussein says that oil overproduction by Kuwait and United Arab Emirates is “economic warfare” against Iraq.

July 15: Iraq accuses Kuwait of stealing oil from Rumaylah oil field near the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border and warns of military action.

July 22: Iraq begins deploying troops to the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border and building a massive military buildup.

August 2: About 100,000 Iraqi troops invade Kuwait. Kuwait is in Iraqi control by the end of the day.

August 6: The U.N. Security Council imposes a trade embargo on Iraq in a 13-0 vote, with Cuba and Yemen abstaining. President George H. W. Bush orders the deployment of U. S. armed forces to defend Saudi Arabia in an operation named OPERATION DESERT SHIELD.

August 7: First U.S. troops arrive in Saudi Arabia.

August 8: Saddam Hussein proclaims the annexation of Kuwait.

August 9: U. N. declares Iraqi annexation of Kuwait void.

August 10: Hussein declares a “jihad” or holy war against the U. S. and Israel.

August 12: Naval blockade of Iraq begins. All shipments of Iraqi oil halted.

August 28: Iraq declares Kuwait as its 19th province and renames Kuwait City as al-Kadhima.

September 14-15: United Kingdom and France announce the deployment of 10,000 troops to Saudi Arabia.

December 17: The United Nations sets a deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait before January 15, 1991, or face military action. Hussein rejects all U. N. resolutions.

1991 – January 9: Talks in Geneva, Switzerland, between U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz end with no progress.

January 12: Congress grants President Bush authority to wage war.

January 16: The White House announced the commencement of OPERATION DESERT STORM: offensive action against the forces of Iraq under the provisions of U.N. Security Council/U.S. Congressional resolutions.

January 17: The war begins at 2:38 a.m. Baghdad time when AH-64 Apache attack helicopters destroy Iraqi radar sites, later F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighters bomb Baghdad and Iraqi forces. Operation Desert Storm begins.

January 18: Iraq strikes with Soviet-made SCUD missiles on Israel. The U.S. deploys Patriot missiles to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

January 22: Iraqi troops begin blowing up Kuwaiti oil wells.

January 25: Iraqi troops begin “environmental war” by dumping millions of gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf.

January 29: Iraqi forces invade the town of Khafji in Saudi Arabia. Iraqi forces are soon engaged by Saudi Arabian and Qatari troops with U.S. Marine artillery.

January 31: Iraqi forces capture Melissa Rathbun-Nealy, the first female Prisoner of War since World War II.

February 1: Iraqi forces are driven out of Saudi Arabia. Allied Forces win the Battle of Khafji. Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney warns U. S. will retaliate if Iraq uses chemical or unconventional weapons.

February 8: Total U. S. troop strength in the Gulf over a half million.

February 12-13: A bombing raid by U.S. forces against Baghdad kills 400 Iraqi civilians in an air raid shelter, and three major bridges.

February 19: Soviet-Iraqi peace plan rejected by President Bush. Oil spill in Gulf now estimated at 1.5 million barrels.

February 22: Pres. Bush issues a 24-hour ultimatum: Iraq must withdraw from Kuwait to avoid start of a ground war.

February 24: Allied Forces invade Iraq and Kuwait at around 4 a.m. Baghdad time. The U.S. Army is the first to enter Iraqi territory.

February 25: An Iraqi SCUD missile hits U.S. barracks near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 U.S. troops.

February 26: Saddam Hussein orders the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. About 10,000 retreating Iraqi troops are killed when Allied aircraft bomb them, it is called the “Highway of Death.”

February 27: U.S. Marines and Saudi Arabian troops enter Kuwait City. The U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division engages the Iraqi Republican Guard in the Battle of Medina Ridge in Iraq. President Bush declares Kuwait liberated.

February 28: By Presidential order all Coalition offensive operations ceased at 0800 local time.

March 1: The cease-fire plan is negotiated in Safwan, Iraq.

March 17: First U.S. troops arrive home.

April 11: The U.N. Security Council declared a formal cease-fire, ending the Gulf War.

Northern Kentucky unit inactivated

On January 11, 2016, in 1204th ASB, Kentucky National Guard, by scottraymond1

By Sgt. David Cox, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade

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Lt. Col. Mark Brozak, commander of the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion furls the unit’s colors with help from Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Foster during an inactivation ceremony in Burlington, Ky., Jan. 10, 2016. After nearly 10 years of service to the Nation and commonwealth, the unit was stood down due to Army force structure changes. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. David Cox)

BURLINGTON, Ky. — Soldiers with 1204th Aviation Support Battalion furled their battalion colors for the last time during an inactivation ceremony Jan. 10, at the National Guard Readiness Center in Burlington, Ky.

The unit of nearly 300 has been inactivated in accordance the Army’s force structure realignment.

Activated in 2006, the 1204th played a vital role in disaster recovery operations during the 2009 Ice Storm and deployed to Iraq in 2011 in support of Operation New Dawn .

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Soldiers of the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion salute during an inactivation ceremony in Burlington, Ky., Jan. 10, 2016. Activated in 2006, the unit was home to nearly 300 Soldiers. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“From 2006 to today, this unit has probably done more as an ASB than the other 12 currently in the force,” said Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Adams, III, Chief of the Joint Staff. “Being able to deploy as a battalion to five different countries during a time of war says a great deal about the unit and its personnel.”

Click here for more photos.

Lt. Col. Mark Brozak, commander of the 1204th ASB, said “that although the colors are cased, the soldiers of the unit will continue to serve the nation and the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

The 1204th’s mess section finished their service to the unit as recipients of the Connelly Award. The award recognizes food service Soldier that exceed Army standards and operate at a level that showcases teamwork, professionalism, quality and service.

Soldiers expressed a bittersweet satisfaction with what they accomplished while being a part of the unit’s history.

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Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams III presents the Connelly Award to Soldiers of the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion during an inactivation ceremony in Burlington, Ky., Jan. 10, 2016. The Connelly Award recognizes food service units and sections that exceed Army standards of food preparation and promote teamwork. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“I’ve been in almost 18 years and this is home to me,” said Staff Sgt. Bill Hyatt, supply noncommissioned officer with Headquarters Support Company, 1204th ASB. “It’s going to be a big culture shock to me because aviation is where I’ve been since I’ve been in the Kentucky Army National Guard and now I’m going to a transportation company.”

“I’m going to be the first person to arrive to the 1204th and the last person to leave.”

The Burlington Readiness Center, home of the 1204th, will continue to be utilized by the Kentucky Guard. Two new units, the 2061st Multi-Role Bridge Company and the 2112th Transportation Company will be stood up this year to operate out the state-of-the-art armory.

See local news coverage here: WLWT 5, WKRC Local 12.

 

By 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Fire Team members from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Security Forces Squadron conduct training to recover a downed pilot inside a simulated Afghan Village at Fort Knox, Ky., Oct. 20, 2015. The Airmen were required to execute a coordinated search while defending their positions and engaging hostile enemy forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

FORT KNOX, Ky. — Fire Team members from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Security Forces Squadron conducted a field training exercise here Oct. 20 that was designed to enhance their ability to operate in a combat environment.

Unit members were evaluated on their ability to extract a downed pilot from a simulated Afghan village and defend a military outpost in the Afghan countryside.

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Fire Team members from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Security Forces Squadron conduct training to recover a simulated downed pilot inside a mock Afghan Village at Fort Knox, Ky., Oct. 20, 2015. The Airmen were required to execute a coordinated search while defending their positions and engaging hostile enemy forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Click here for more photos.

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Senior Airman Randy Roberts, a Fire Team leader from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Security Forces Squadron, directs efforts to recover a simulated downed pilot inside a mock Afghan Village at Fort Knox, Ky., Oct. 20, 2015. Roberts and his fellow Airmen were required to execute a coordinated search while defending their positions and engaging hostile forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

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Tech. Sgt. Julien Borchert, a squad leader for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Security Forces Squadron, shouts commands during a field training exercise at Ft. Knox, Ky., Oct. 20, 2015. Unit members were being evaluated on their ability to extract a downed pilot from a simulated Afghan village. (Kentucky Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

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A Fire Team member from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Security Forces Squadron provides cover as his teammates search for a simulated downed pilot inside a mock Afghan Village at Fort Knox, Ky., Oct. 20, 2015. The Airmen were required to execute a coordinated search while defending their positions and engaging hostile forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

Our best of 2015

On December 31, 2015, in Kentucky National Guard, by scottraymond1

Best of 2015Another year’s in the books, with more pages to document the service of the Kentucky National Guard. Around the commonwealth and across the globe, our Guardsmen once again have displayed what we call unbridled service. Below are a few of our favorite stories of duty and accomplishment.

Thanks to all our friends, families for allowing us to make 2015 another successful year of service to Kentucky and the Nation.

Guard activated for winter storm response

Guardsmen compete in biathlon finals

Air Guard welcomes 9-year-old fighting cancer

Kentucky dedicates Guard memorial

Cruising to remember

A reason to stay in uniform

Four million pounds for a purpose

Kentucky hosts Djibouti delegation

Kentucky Guard cuts ribbons on new facilities

123rd Airlift Wing named top airlift unit

Guardsmen support Gubernatorial Inauguration

Gov. Bevin names new adjutant general

KSP class includes 3 Guardsmen

By Olivia Burton, Kentucky National Guard Family Programs

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Kentucky National Guard and The American Legion Auxiliary Anderson Unit 34 teamed up for the annual Operation Military Cheer to benefit military families during the holiday. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Olivia Burton)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Over the past several years, Home Builders Care, in partnership with Members of the Home Builders Association of Lexington have collected toys, bicycles, clothing, musical instruments and gift cards that have been distributed to more than 650 Kentucky Guard families.

Operation Military Cheer has become a momentous occasion for the local community and military families needing a little help around the holiday season. This year was no exception.

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Sgt. Stephanie Williams and Sgt. 1st Class Charity Lane help load donations from the Home Builders Association in Lexington, Ky., Dec. 11, 2015. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Olivia Burton)

“In 2011, we started a non-profit here at the Home Builders Association called Home Builders Care. Our involvement in Operation Military Cheer has grown tremendously, especially this year,” said Treasurer Don Sullivan. “It is well worth the work and preparation. This is my Christmas.”

Once the toys were collected at the Home Builders Association in Lexington, they were transported to the “North Pole” at the American Legion Auxiliary in Anderson County. Donations flooded Unit 34, ranging from large corporations to single contributors. Ale 8, Mayfield Academy, The Lexington Church and tenants at Bluegrass Army Depot also took the opportunity to help out.

Once the items were organized by local volunteers, they were sent to 16 armories across the state. From Pikeville to Murray, 148 families, including 379 children, will have a little more to smile about this Christmas.

Child and Youth Programs Coordinator Linda Jones shared their reason for the season, “It not only warms my heart to see all these kids get gifts for Christmas that wouldn’t have otherwise, but it warms my heart to see fellow military families and the community step up and take care of these kids for Christmas.

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Kentucky National Guard and The American Legion Auxiliary Anderson Unit 34 teamed up for the annual Operation Military Cheer to benefit military families during the holiday. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Olivia Burton)

The Kentucky Guard and The American Legion Auxiliary Anderson Unit 34 have spearheaded the drive to serve families in need this holiday season.

On behalf of the State Family Programs Office, we would like to thank everyone for their contributions and sacrifices made to provide help to our families. If you would like to learn more about this program or are a Service member in need of assistance, please call 1-800-372-7601 opt 1.

By Brendan P. Bartholomew, San Francisco Examiner

CA students

Crocker Middle School students packed up donated items into an Army Humvee in Hillsborough, Calif., to send to troops in Afghanistan. (Courtesy LeAnn Thornton)

HILLSBOROUGH, Calif. — U.S. Army personnel recently visited Crocker Middle School in Hillsborough, where students filled their Humvee with care packages bound for troops in Afghanistan.

The event capped what has become an annual tradition at the school, where kids reach out to their community, soliciting donations of food, personal care products, holiday decorations, and other items intended to provide soldiers overseas with the comforts of home.

Hillsborough adopted the Army’s 1st Brigade combat team, 101st Airborne Division (air assault) in 2007. Crocker Middle School began collaborating with the city and the Hillsborough Police Department on the Adopt-A-Unit campaign in 2012, when coordinator LeAnn Thornton contacted teacher Audrey Fairchild, asking if her students would sign a holiday banner for deployed troops. The students responded by asking what other forms of support they could provide.

This year, the unit from 101st Airborne is back home, so the school adopted the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 1163rd Area Support Medical Company, a team of reservists whose ranks include a police officer and a commercial airline pilot, along with doctors, nurses, and EMT firefighters.

The 1163rd ASMC is attached to an Army combat hospital in Afghanistan, where they provide emergency medical services, both to base personnel and individuals airlifted in from other locations.

The soldiers say the care packages have a positive impact on troop morale by uplifting the spirits of those serving abroad.

Army recruiter Staff Sgt. John Kaleski and reservist Sgt. Rick Nelson accompanied the Humvee at Crocker. Kaleski enjoyed talking with the students about everything from “Star Wars” to their favorite football and soccer teams. He was deployed in Afghanistan in 2003 and Iraq in
2004.

“We had all the local kids talking like Snoop Dogg,” Kaleski laughed.

According to Thornton, the care packages have played a role in establishing good will with Afghan children. Last year, Crocker students collected about 100 pounds of
Halloween candy, which they included in the care packages. This year, the students collected three times that amount.

When troops shared the candy with Afghani kids, the children responded by showing them where hidden explosives were located. “The Halloween candy literally saved lives,” Thornton said.

Kaleski noted the Army has base stores where deployed troops can acquire life’s necessities, but the inventory rarely changes. Part of a care packages’ magic is it might contain specific brands that remind a soldier of home. “When my sister was sending me a care package, all I wanted was Chef Boyardee Beefaroni,” Kaleski said.

Sentiments like Kaleski’s are part of Crocker student Jocelyn Murphy’s motivation for participating in the care package campaign.

“As they’re putting their lives on the line, they deserve something they actually recognize from home,” Murphy said.

Fellow student Christopher Mahoney also talked about the life-and-death stakes deployed soldiers might face.

“I think it’s good to support troops because they’re risking their lives,” Mahoney said, “They enlisted, and that’s very selfless.”

See the original story at the San Francisco Examiner here.

Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Staff Report

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Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter gathers with more than 50 U.S. general officers during the CAPSTONE General and Flag Officer Course in Washington, D.C., July, 2015. Kentucky’s Brig Gen. Scott Campbell was one of six National Guard officers selected to attend. (Courtesy photo)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell, of the Kentucky National Guard, is the deputy commanding general of the 38th Infantry Division and was chosen to attend the Department of Defense’s CAPSTONE Program July 13 to Aug. 14, 2015.

The CAPSTONE General and Flag Officer Course was created in 1982. The Goldwater-Nichols DoD Reorganization Act of 1986 subsequently mandated that all newly selected active duty generals and flag officers attend CAPSTONE. The course is managed by the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Course attendance is still competitive for National Guard and Reserve general officers.

According to NDU, the course objective is to make these individuals more effective in planning and employing U.S. forces in joint and combined operations. The CAPSTONE curriculum examines major issues affecting national security decision making, military strategy, joint/combined doctrine, interoperability, and key allied nation issues.

Campbell was one of only six National Guard general officers included in the class of 55 Fellows. Few Kentucky Guard general officers have been extended the privilege of attending this course since its inception.

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Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell tours the Great Wall of China during the overseas portion of the CAPSTONE General and Flag Officer Course, July, 2015. Campbell visited China, Japan and Korea as part of the course which examines major issues affecting national security decision making, military strategy, joint/combined doctrine, interoperability, and key allied nation issues.(Courtesy photo)

“This was by far the best educational experience of my 34-year career,” said Campbell. “It was an amazing experience that exposed me to senior decision makers, both domestic and international, and gave me a better understanding of the complexities in the world and the security challenges facing the U.S.”

The course began in Washington, D.C. with briefings from directors of the various federal agencies and combatant commanders. Day 3 began stateside travel with visits to various military command headquarters in Virginia, Florida, Nebraska, Colorado, and Illinois.

The class returned to Washington upon completion of the 10-day stateside trip and prepared for overseas travel. The class was broken into three groups traveling to Europe, South America or the Pacific region.

Campbell was selected for the Pacific trip which included stops in Japan, South Korea, and China with a visit to U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii on the return trip. The overseas trip lasted approximately 13 days with the CAPSTONE Fellows visiting with U.S. and host nation military officials, U.S. Embassy officials to include ambassadors, host nation government officials and local think tanks.

Campbell said the focus of the overseas tour was to study U.S. policy as it relates to the visited nation and the region. The exchanges also included cultural stops which included The Forbidden City and The Great Wall of China, the Demilitarized Zone, Seoul Tower and Gyeongbok Presidential Palace in Korea, and Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

The course ended back in Washington, D.C. and concluded with briefings from the Secretary of Defense and directors of federal agencies, to include the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as the DoD Service Chiefs from each branch of the military.

“I feel very privileged for being selected to attend,” Campbell said. “The senior leader briefers and CAPSTONE staff told us that the most fundamental objective of this course is an understanding and appreciation of the other services and agencies and building relationships with the other Fellows that will stay with you throughout your life. I feel like that objective is being met. I’ve already met several of my Capstone classmates in other forums and we now share a common bond.”

GOVERNOR BEVIN ANNOUNCES SOLUTION TO THE KENTUCKY NATIONAL GUARD TUITION ASSISTANCE SHORTFALL

 FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2015) – Last week it came to the attention of Governor Bevin that nearly 700 Kentucky Guard members had been denied tuition assistance due to an unforeseen funding shortfall. Upon hearing of this situation, Governor Bevin immediately began to work with Adjutant General Hogan and State Senator Chris McDaniel to find a solution to allow these Guard members to enroll in classes for the spring semester.

Today, Governor Bevin met with leaders of the Kentucky higher education institutions to request that the Kentucky National Guard members be able to enroll for the spring semester with the understanding that the state will reimburse the universities for any funding shortfall in the upcoming budget session.

“I am pleased to announce that we have found a solution for the Guard members who were denied tuition assistance due to a lack of funds,” said Governor Bevin. “This afternoon I met with the university and community college presidents and they have graciously agreed to front the tuition assistance for the Guard members until the state is able to provide reimbursement.”

“This solution will ensure that the Kentucky Guard members’ academic enrollment is not adversely impacted while we work to finalize funding,” Governor Bevin continued. “I thank the leaders of our higher education community, Sen. McDaniel, and Adjutant General Hogan for partnering with us in this effort to restore the benefits that had been promised. This program is a small token of appreciation for the sacrifices made by the men and women serving us proudly in the Guard.”

The General Assembly set aside $5.3 million for the program, but that is approximately $1 to $2 million short of the total amount needed to fully fund the requested assistance. The Administration is looking at funding options both within the current budget as well as the budget for the upcoming session. The House and Senate leadership have expressed commitment to ensure that this obligation is met in the next budget cycle. The Kentucky National Guard members that have been affected should directly contact their higher education institution with questions.

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