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

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Sgt. Christopher DeLeon (#14) and Staff Sgt. Nicholas Anglin (#4) begin a six-mile road march as part of the 2014 National Guard Region III Best Warrior Competition at Camp Blanding, Fla., April 15, 2014. The two Guardsmen represented Kentucky amongst Soldiers from nine other states and territories. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

CAMP BLANDING, Fla. — Kentucky’s Soldier and non-commissioned officer of the year competed with the top Guardsmen of the Southeast in the 2014 National Guard Region III Best Warrior Competition at Camp Blanding, Fla., April 14-17.

After winning the state competition last November, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Anglin of the 201st Engineer Battalion and Sgt. Christopher DeLeon from the 2123rd Transportation Company represented the commonwealth at the next level. The Kentuckians were pitted against other Guardsmen from states and territories in Region III of the National Guard (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and the Virgin Islands) in a four-day, event-filled contest, fitting of the “Best Warrior” title.

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Sgt. Christopher DeLeon drags a simulated casualty during an urban operations exercise as part of the 2014 Region III Best Warrior Competition at Camp Blanding, Fla., April 14, 2014. The exercise tested the Soldiers’ skills in room clearing, use of grenades, casualty treatment and radio communication. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“This week has been exciting, it’s been stressful, uplifting, encouraging, just everything you think it would be,” said Anglin. “It pushes you to your limits and how far you can push yourself mentally and physically.”

Click here to see more photos from the competition.

Competitors were met with a grueling schedule of events kicking off before the sun rose to well into the evenings with few rest periods in between. Challenging events such a six-mile ruck march, air assault obstacle course and two-mile stress shoot were unique tasks mixed with the more practical Army physical fitness test and land navigation course. All part of a competition much different than the Soldiers won at the state-level.

Anglin said a highlight for him was running his fastest two-mile run time during the Army Physical Fitness Test, but said his favorite event was the stress shoot which combined endurance, skill and marksmanship, all over a diverse two-mile course.

“My most memorable moment is this feeling right now, that I survived the week,” he said. “I have a sense of pride knowing that I was able to accomplish these tasks and get through everything. I may not have been the best, but I finished and that is a sense of accomplishment for me.”

DeLeon agreed that the week was beneficial to him as a person and future leader of Soldiers. He enjoys more physical training, but said the best feeling was the relaxation of finishing.

“I feel like that was the most stressful week of my life,” he said. “I feel honored to represent the 2123rd and the whole state. I’d do it again, but I think another Soldier should experience this type of competition, and I’ll be back as a sponsor to train and guide them through it.”

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Staff Sgt. Nicholas Anglin balances on a rope swing of the air assault obstacle course during the Region III Best Warrior Competition at Camp Blanding, Fla., April 15, 2014. The obstacle course was part of a four-day event that brought the best Soldier and non-commissioned officer from each of the ten states and territories in the Southeast. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Anglin and DeLeon both were accompanied by a sponsor, another Soldier from their unit who acted as a battle buddy who helped them study and prepare for each event. Sgt. 1st Class David Adams and Sgt. James Ford were at Anglin and DeLeon’s side respectively, keeping them motivated throughout the week.

The competitors ruined a couple uniforms, slept little, lost a few pounds and learned a lot of what they are made of. They dusted off the dirt and covered the scratches and bruises with their Army Service Uniform for the culminating board appearances and banquet that wrapped up the week. Each competitor was congratulated by the state command sergeant major of each state and territory in attendance.

Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley, Kentucky’s State Command Sergeant Major travelled with the pair to Florida to help cheer them on.

While the trophies went to the top Soldiers, both from the Mississippi National Guard, Chumley was in awe of the Kentuckians every step of the way.

“These Soldiers have done outstanding, I’m proud of them,” said Chumley. “They went far beyond what I expected, they gave 110 percent.”

“I want them to know that their units, their sergeants major, their first sergeants ought to be proud of them, they represented Kentucky well.”

 

 Story by: Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Master Sgt. Anthony J Tidei and his sons, Jonathon, Paul, Caleb, and Joshua climb aboard an aircraft during thier drill weekend on Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. March 15. Each Tidei is positioned where they would usually be working or operating on the aircraft. (US Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

FRANKFORT Ky. – Hard working, determined, intelligent and responsible are a few of the many words Lindsay would use to describe the last name Tidei. Lindsay holds the name of a unique family in the Kentucky National Guard. The last name Tidei belongs to five members of the same family, which currently serve in the Kentucky National Guard, and one member who recently served.

Not only are the Tideis’ a part of the Kentucky National Guard, but Master Sgt. Anthony J. Tidei, an Aircraft Maintainer with Bravo Co. 351st, and his sons, all chose careers within the Aviation field.

“I have always tried to be a positive role model in my son’s lives,” said Anthony. “I’ve worked hard to give them proper values. Their success is my success and I am proud of each and every one of them.”

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Master Sgt. Anthony J Tidei Chief Warrant Officer, Jonathon J. Tidei, Sgt. Paul E. Tidei, Spc. Joshua P. Tidei and Spc. Caleb P. Tidei (US Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

Chief Warrant Officer Jonathon J. Tidei, the oldest son, is a UH-60 pilot with Co. B 2/147th. He attributes a lot of his success to his father.

“Dad has always taught us to do the right thing,” said Jonathon. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps and carry on the Tidei legacy.”

Jonathon’s wife, Lindsay has seen the boys as Soldiers and Civilians. She says they are the same no matter what hat they are wearing.

“I’ve seen them at family picnics, but this is the first time I’ve seen them together in uniform,” she said. “They can be fun at times, but when they have a mission to do, they put their game face on and complete the task at hand.”

Sgt. Paul E. Tidei, Flight Operations Specialist with Operational Support Airlift Command Detachment 11, said that he felt like carrying on the family tradition would be a tough task.

“My dad has set the standard for the Tidei name,” said Paul. “Everyone looks up to him, including us. If you’re one of his kids, you’re expected to act as he does.”

Spc. Caleb P. Tidei and Spc. Joshua P. Tidei chose to be Aircraft Maintainers with Detachment 1, 2/147th Aviation to follow closely behind their father. When quizzed on certain parts of the aircraft by their dad, they passed with flying colors.

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Master Sgt. Anthony J Tidei quizes his sons Caleb and Joshua on aircraft parts during thier drill weekend on Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. March 15. Anthony and both of his sons are currently Aircraft Maintainers in the 63rd Theatre Aviation Brigade. (US Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

Daniel Tidei, now a civilian IT specialist, once held the rank of sergeant and was a hydraulics specialist.

Master Sgt. Tidei is preparing to finish up his long, influential career. He is well loved by all who have served alongside him, including Lt. Col. Michael Stephens, Deputy Commander of the 63rd Theatre Aviation Brigade.

“Master Sgt. Tidei has had an impact on this organization that is hard to measure,” said Stephens.” The fact that five of his sons have followed in his footsteps is astonishing. It is a testament to the way he leads his family and shows the love he has for the Kentucky National Guard and for the nation. Tony will be greatly missed when he retires, but I know his legacy will live on through his family.”

 

 

 

Story by Maj. David Page, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Col. Steven King places a new unit insignia patch on the uniform of Spc. Anthony House during a change of command ceremony at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., March 23, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. LuWanda Knuckles)

GREENVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky Guardsmen have been training at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., for years. The consistency and quality of preparedness the site provides has only increased with time.  The mission of the center has continued to evolve, to the benefit of the Kentucky Guard.

20140416_095852The newest change came on March 23 as Col. Steven King took charge of the garrison during a change of command ceremony. King brought  a new look to Wendell H. Ford as the garrison officially became their own command with the establishment of a distinctive unit insignia and should sleeve insignia.

According to King, the insignia illustrates the training center garrison command’s unique mission and requirements that are different from all other commands. This designation highlights the role Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center plays for the Kentucky Army National Guard.

“The recognition of being awarded new colors and new unit patch is great way of building pride and esprit de corps among the Soldiers assigned to this Training Center,” said King.  “It’s a reflection of their dedication to being a Soldier first, while simultaneously training and supporting their fellow warriors.”

“I, along with Command Sergeant Major Rea, am deeply honored to uncase our new colors and to open a new chapter in the history of this magnificent Training Center,” he said.

 

Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Staff Report

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1st Lt. Adela McIntosh steals a kiss from her daughter Camilla. “This is why I do what I do,” said McIntosh. “It’s the charming smiles, the infectious giggles and the sweet kisses that make all of the long hours and hard work worth it.”

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Each April, the military shines  a spotlight on the children of Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. Military children make up a very special portion of a population. We honor them for their sacrifice and contributions, regardless of age, in support of their parents in uniform through deployments and moves.

The Kentucky National Guard is proud of each and every child that helps make up the Guard family in the commonwealth. We highlight just a few here, but ask that all Guardsmen take the time to spend a few extra moments with our precious gifts. Enjoy the spring time with a fun-filled weekend away with the family, gather them for a picnic or simply share a fun photo on social media.  April is Month of the Military Child. Let’s celebrate them!

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Sgt. Ashley Branson and her husband Wally swing their daughter Skyler during a walk.  “There is nothing better then being a mom and being able to serve this country,” said Branson.

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Master Sgt. Joey Youdell, created a “unit pride” ceiling tile with his daughters, Olivia and Juliet. The hand-painted tile is one of several that have been installed in The Winner’s Circle recreation center at the Kentucky Air Guard Base in Louisville. “The girls did a great job filling in all the holes with paint,” he said. “It took a long time, but we had a lot of fun doing it.”

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Sgt. LuWanda Knuckles and her son Zavian. “He thinks I’m ‘Superwoman,’” said Knuckles. “He’s extremely supportive of me being in the Guard and he makes me feel so special whenever I come home, even if it’s from just a day at work.”

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Spc. James Moore greets his daughter upon his return from a deployment to Afghanistan. “Coming home is the best feeling,” said Moore. “I just remember seeing my family and grabbing them and hugging them.”

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Staff Sgt. Birgit Corriveau welcomes home her son, Spc. Ty Corriveau from a deployment to Afghanistan. “He’s my Soldier, my son, my hero,” said Corriveau. “It is very unique to have a child that is in the military. It was difficult to watch him deploy, yet at the same time I was so proud that he made the choice to serve our country and to defend and protect our freedom.”

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Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond spends a final moment with his daughter Sydney prior to his deployment to Iraq. “I like to think I can be as strong as my daughter is through all she’s been through as a military kid,” said Raymond. “She teaches me about how resilient we all should be.”

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Staff Sgt. Kristina McDonald enjoys a group hug with her children, Gabriel, Nivea, Aiden and Isabella. “My kids make it easy for me to wear the uniform,” said McDonald. “Serving my country is also serving for my kids.”

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Sgt. Brandy Mort shows off her new rank insignia to her son Jayden. “Having a son has taught me that I have people looking up to me, just like my new role as an NCO,” said Mort.

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1st Lt. Joshua Witt gathers with three of his 11 children, Avery, Cameron and Lauren. “My kids share my passion for the military,” said Witt. “My son is in the United States Air Force and my daughters are volunteers for the Kentucky Guard’s Youth Program. I couldn’t be more proud of the Witt clan.”

By Maj. Dale Greer, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Director of Air Guard swears in 15 Airmen to start Thunder Over Louisville

Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, administers the oath of enlistment to 15 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard on the 2nd Street Bridge in Louisville, Ky., April 12, 2014. The event kicked off Thunder Over Louisville, the city’s annual air show and fireworks display over the Ohio River. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, toured the Kentucky Air Guard Base here April 11-13, meeting Airmen from units across the 123rd Airlift Wing and kicking off Thunder Over Louisville, one of the largest air show and fireworks displays in North America.

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Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, speaks with Staff Sgt. Shelby Basham of the 123rd Airlift Wing’s Fatality Search and Recovery Team during a tour of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 11, 2014. Clarke visited with Airmen from across the wing and examined mission capabilities ranging from contingency response to special tactics. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Horton)

Clarke also inspected the wing’s unique mission capabilities, including the only fully operational contingency response group in the Air National Guard and a special tactics squadron that combines both combat control and pararescue functions, according to Col. Barry Gorter, commander of the 123rd.

“It’s always good to get out of the office and talk to Airmen in the field,” Clarke said of his visit. “That’s the best part of my job.”

He was especially interested in learning more about the contingency response and special tactics units here.

Click here to see all of the photos from this event.

A contingency response group functions as an “airbase in a box,” Gorter said, providing the ability to rapidly establish an air cargo hub at remote locations worldwide in support of military operations or disaster-response missions. The unit’s Airmen are completely self-sufficient, bringing everything from housing, communications and power generation to all-terrain forklifts, aircraft maintenance and security forces.

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Tech. Sgt. Ben Pelster, a combat controller from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, shows a MK-13 40mm grenade launcher to Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, during a tour of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 11, 2014. Clarke visited with Airmen from across the 123rd Airlift Wing and examined mission capabilities ranging from contingency response to special tactics. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Horton)

Special tactics Airmen are among the most highly trained operators in the U.S. Military. Combat controllers are certified air traffic controllers who deploy undetected into hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance. Pararescuemen are parachute-jump qualified personnel-recovery specialists. They maintain emergency medical technician credentials throughout their careers and provide life-saving trauma care in the world’s most remote areas, including combat environments.

After the tour concluded, Clarke said he was impressed by the Airmen and the capabilities of the 123rd, calling it “an excellent wing.”

“You can tell that the Airmen here are well-led and well-trained,” he said. “It’s an excellent wing, and a lot of the credit goes to the leadership here.”

One of the highlights of Clarke’s visit was the opportunity to kick off the Thunder Over Louisville air show by swearing in 15 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard during live television coverage.

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The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels demonstration squadron performs aerobatic maneuvers over the Ohio River and 2nd Street Bridge in Louisville, Ky., April 12, 2014. More than 650,000 spectators turned out for the event, which was part of the annual Thunder Over Louisville air show. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

The annual show, which is staged over the Ohio River and featured performances this year by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team and 15 other acts, drew a crowd of more than 650,000 spectators. Television coverage, broadcast in Louisville from 12:30 to 10:30 p.m., will be edited down for global rebroadcast on Armed Forces Network over the 4th of July weekend.

“It’s pretty exciting to begin my career in the Kentucky Air National Guard by having a three-star general swear me in on live television,” said Samantha Ruzanaka, a new recruit who will be joining the 123rd Security Forces Squadron here as a fire team member.

“This a great unit, and that was a great way to begin serving my state and nation,” she said.

The event also was a great experience for Clarke, whose son-in-law, Jacob Reynolds, was among the Airmen being sworn in. Reynolds is joining the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron as a C-130 crew chief.

“This was my first Thunder, and I was just overwhelmed by the support of the local community,” Clarke said. “I was extremely impressed by how engaged people are with the military, how much they love the Guard and, especially, this wing.”

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Senior Master Sgt. Shane LaGrone of the 123rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight demonstrates an EOD robot to Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard, during a tour of the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 11, 2014. Clarke visited with Airmen from across the 123rd Airlift Wing and examined mission capabilities ranging from contingency response to special tactics. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Horton)

Clarke noted that his friend, retired Lt. Gen. John Conaway, a former Kentucky Air Guardsman who served as chief of the National Guard Bureau from 1990 to 1993, had been encouraging him to visit Louisville and the 123rd Airlift Wing for a long time.

“General Conaway’s been telling me for years that this is a great unit,” Clarke said. “Now I can go back and report to him that he is correct.”

The 123rd Airlift Wing is one of the most decorated wings in the United States Air Force, with 15 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, six Distinguished Flying Unit Plaques, three Metcalf Trophies and three Spaatz Trophies. The Metcalf Trophy is awarded annually to the top airlift unit in the Air National Guard, and the Spaatz Trophy is bestowed on the country’s premier Air Guard flying unit each year.

 

 

Kentucky Guard continues to support Thunder

On April 16, 2014, in Kentucky National Guard, by stephendmartin1

Story by: Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Crump from the 138th Fires Brigade oversees Soldiers firing a salvo of Howitzer 105mm rounds from the 2nd street bridge in Louisville, Ky., during the 25th annual Thunder Over Louisville fireworks and air show April 12, 2014. Members of the Kentucky Guard highlighted the evening’s entertainment of music and firework displays.(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

LOUISVILLE Ky., – Nearly 200 Soldiers gathered together as more than 750,000 people packed the streets of Louisville for the annual Thunder Over Louisville as part of the Kentucky Derby Festival held April 12.

Guardsmen from across the Commonwealth along with the Louisville Metro Police Department served and protected the city of Louisville during the event. No officer was left without a civilian counterpart. This year’s event was anticipated to be one of the largest Thunder Over Louisville events ever.

To see all the photos from this event, please click HERE.

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Hawkins, from the 223rd Military Police Company, was assigned the duty to control traffic alongside an LMPD officer as the massive crowds began to flood the streets by the waterfront. He was honored to work with his civilian equivalent.

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Kentucky National Guard Military Police Officers patrol the grounds Louisville with officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department April 12, during Thunder Over Louisville. (US Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

“It gives us a chance to support our local community as well as having the unique opportunity to work with civilian police officers,” said Hawkins, “When people see both sets of uniforms, I think they will have a better sense of security knowing that we have put forth a huge effort to keep them protected.”

Events like Thunder give Soldiers a yearly a chance to put their training to work and also show what the National Guard is all about, working hand in hand with local authorities to protect our home front.

“This is an event we conduct every year,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Lee, Company Commander with the 223rd MP Company, “Working with local officials is a great experience for our Guardsmen. It gives them the opportunity to work with someone who patrols these streets and protects them every day.”

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Spc. Samantha Haynes, Information Technology Specialist with the 138th Signal Company prepares to fire a 105mm Howitzer during Thunder Over Louisville, April 12. Haynes has grown up watching the fireworks and was honored to be able to fire the cannon. (US Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

Whether it’s your first Thunder Over Louisville or your 15th, this  event is something you will remember for years to come. Spc. Samantha Haynes, Information Technology Specialist with the 138th Signal Company, has grown up watching the air and fireworks show since she was young and was honored to have the opportunity to shoot the 105mm Howitzer cannon.

“When I was younger, I would always love hearing the cannons,” said Haynes, “It feels great to be able to pull the cord and make other people feel the same excitement I did when I was their age.”

As another Thunder came to an end, the effort put forth by the Kentucky National Guard and the Louisville Metro Police Department to serve and protect the Commonwealth of Kentucky shined almost as bright as the fireworks.

“Without the Kentucky National Guard, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” said Sgt. William Patterson, LMPD officer, second in command over traffic. “The guard has been with us for so long that without them we wouldn’t keep having successful events such as today.”

 

Story by Sgt. Alexa Becerra, 138th Field Artillery Brigade Public Affairs 

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Soldiers with Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery clean the barrel of a M109 Paladin during a drill weekend at Fort Knox, Ky., March 8, 2014.  (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — After being constantly deployed to different combat zones for the past decade as security forces, convoy security and military trainers, the dynamic 138th Field Artillery Brigade returned their focus to their main field of expertise.

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Staff Sgt. Christopher Lisle, a howitzer section chief with the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery communicates orders to his crew during a training exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., March 8, 2014. The exercise is part of the unit’s goal to complete qualification with functional combat artillery support capabilities. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

As combat deployments become few and far between, the 138th Field Artillery is transitioning back to being able to provide accurate and predictable artillery fires, all while maintaining overall soldier readiness.

“After being off the guns for several years, our focus now is getting back to Field Artillery fundamentals,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lisle, Howitzer Section Chief at Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery. “It’s amazing to see this level of excitement from our guys, most of which have served almost a full contract doing deployment related tasks and have not been on the Howitzers.”

Lisle added that while there is a depth of experience, it hasn’t all been artillery related.

“We are building our teams from the ground up, and doing it right,” said Lisle, whose battery conducts their training at Fort Knox, Ky. “Our goal by the end of the year is to complete table seven section qualification.”

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Spc. Glemeau with the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery wipes grease off the barrel of a M109 Paladin at Fort Knox, Ky., March 8, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

Table VIII section qualification consists of live fire missions and certifies the units as qualified firing batteries. As in many other fields, to be able to execute the artillery mission operational support is needed.

“Our mission in the fire control section is to redeploy the operations center by retraining and reintegrating ourselves in the role of being digital artillerymen,” said Staff Sgt. J.C. Parsons, Assistant Fire Control Non-Commissioned Officer for Headquarters Headquarters Battery, 138th Field Artillery.

The operations center is currently located at Bluegrass Station, Ky., said Parsons.

“We are training to reestablish proper command flow and control of how the field artillery is used and commanded in the modern day warfare,” said Parsons.

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Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery maneuver a M109 Paladin during a training exercise at Fort Knox, Ky., March 8, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

The full reintegration process will take time, but so far the 138th is headed in the right direction.

“The environment and circumstances we are working in have changed,” said 2nd Lt. Holdun Reed, Platoon Leader at Charlie Battery, 2/138th. “Yet, we are adaptive and resilient and have smoothly made the changes necessary to operate like we always have; perhaps better than before.”

As with most National Guard units, versatility and adaptability are traits that are required to succeed and have even become second nature to the 138th.

“I have always believed that Field Artillery is the most versatile force and we have proven that so far and will continue to prove it,” said Reed. “We stand ready for missions abroad and within our own state.”

Basic Training bound

On April 14, 2014, in Kentucky National Guard, Recruiting, by scottraymond1

Story by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Oliver, Bravo Company, Detachment 1, 2/75th Recruiting and Retention Battalion

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Kentucky National Guard recruit Pfc. Jacob Perkins of Crittenden, Ky., climbs through an obstacle during the Bravo Company Recruit Sustainment Program annual field training exercise at the Grant County High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps complex in Dry Ridge, Ky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, 2/75th Recruiting and Retention)

DRY RIDGE, Ky. — More than 200 of the Kentucky National Guard’s newest recruits prepared for their future trip to Army Basic Combat Training during a field training exercise at Grant County High School in Dry Ridge, Ky.

“Our training prepares the new Soldiers for the rigorous and physical training they will encounter at BCT and they will be ahead of their peers when they go to their individual basic and advanced training,” said Cpt. Travis Riley, commander of Bravo Company, 2/75th Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

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Kentucky National Guard recruit Pvt. Demikia Cooper of Independence, Ky., climbs an obstacle ladder as part of the Kentucky Guard’s Recruit Sustainment field training exercise in Dry Ridge, Ky., April 5, 2014. The exercise brought the recruits to the field to prepare them for the rigors of basic training. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

To see more photos from this story, click here.

As part of the Kentucky Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program, new enlistees are trained in the routine Soldier skills and Army Values before leaving to basic combat training and advanced individual training. The recruits drill one weekend a month, just like traditional Guardsmen, in preparation for what is to come.

“The field training exercise is a great opportunity to change up the schedule a bit,” said Riley. ” We bring them all together, get them outdoors all day and  give them an even better taste of what’s next.”.

The future Soldiers were taught and guided through several Army warrior tasks and drills at the exercise. The training included fire team tactical movements, evaluate a casualty, prevent or control shock and first aid on a suspected fracture and open abdominal wound. The new Guardsmen also learned how to use a geographical map, a magnetic compass and determining their 50 meter pace count.

The highlight of the day, for most,  including the new recruits muscling their way through a mile long obstacle course, and building team cohesion with relay events.

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The Kentucky National Guard’s newest recruits prepared for Army Basic Combat Training during the Bravo Company Recruit Sustainment Program annual field training exercise at Grant County High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp complex in Dry Ridge, Ky., April 5, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, 2/75th Recruiting and Retention)

“Today’s training was tough but I’m glad we are doing it so I can be ready and pass basic,” said Pvt. 1st Class Emily Tillman of Hebron, Ky. Tillman also stated she wants to use the KYNG experience to become an agent with the U.S. Marshals.

The annual event was conducted by Soldiers with Bravo Co.’s Recruit Sustainment Program. This year, they received help from the high school’s Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps as cadets from the school led the recruits through the JROTC obstacle course.

“I think it’s real cool that everybody is using our JROTC field to help out with all the new recruits,” said Pvt. 1st Class Jacob Perkins, Grant County H.S. JROTC Cadet from Crittenden, Ky. ”This gives me pride and a since of accomplishment knowing that I may have helped somebody pass their basic training,”

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Kentucky National Guard recruits Pvt. Patrick Carlisle and Pfc. Darin Barnhill race each other while caring two filled 5 gallon water jugs during the Bravo Company Recruit Sustainment Program annual field training exercise at Grant County High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp complex in Dry Ridge, Ky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, 2/75th Recruiting and Retention)

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

Blue Angels and F-22s arrive for Thunder Over Louisville

U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets taxi onto the flight line at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 10, 2014. The Blue Angels are performing in this weekend’s Thunder Over Louisville air show. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The military aircraft slated to participate in this weekend’s Thunder Over Louisville air show began arriving at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base April 10.

Six U.S. Navy Blue Angel F/A-18 Hornets, the Blue Angels’ C-130 support aircraft and the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team all arrived here before noon.

The Blue Angels’ flight demonstration will showcase the choreographed refinement of skills possessed by all naval aviators, according to Lt. Ryan Chamberlain, Blue Angel number seven, air show narrator and VIP pilot.

Click here to see more photos of the Blue Angels arrival and practice in Louisville.

Blue Angels practice for Thunder Over Louisville

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels practice their aerial demonstration routine over the Ohio River in downtown Louisville, Ky., April 10, 2014. The Blue Angels are performing in this weekend’s Thunder Over Louisville air show. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

“The fans will see the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” Chamberlain said of the Blue Angels show, scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. “You’re going to see formation flying as close as 18 inches, you’re going to see airspeeds approaching just under the speed of sound, crossing maneuvers at 1,000 miles per hour and an overall showcase of what its like to be in naval aviation.”

Chamberlain said the demonstration will give citizens a good opportunity to see the capabilities of Naval aviation up close, fostering stronger ties between the military and civilian communities.

“The Navy and Marine Corps are all about naval aviation,” he said. “We can’t bring an aircraft carrier to Louisville, but we can bring the Blue Angels. We’re used to flying great aircraft off of great aircraft carriers, and we can bring that experience with the Blue Angels to the people of Louisville.”

The Blue Angels demonstration will start with the C-130, affectionately known as Fat Albert. Shortly thereafter, the team’s F/A-18 pilots will demonstrate a four-jet Diamond Formation in concert with the fast-paced, high-performance maneuvers of two solo pilots. Finally, the team will illustrate precision flying by performing maneuvers while locked as a unit in the six-jet Delta Formation.

Also arriving for the air show was the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, the world’s most sophisticated and capable fighter aircraft.

Blue Angels and F-22s arrive for Thunder Over Louisville

A U.S. Air Force F-22 “Raptor” fighter aircraft lands at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 10, 2014. The aircraft is performing in this weekend’s Thunder Over Louisville air show. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Maj. Dale Greer)

“The aspects that make the F-22 superior to other fighters are three things,” said Capt. Ryan Shelhorse, F-22 flight commander and demo team safety observer. “Supercruise, the ability to get to mach without afterburners; integrated avionics, allowing the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill air-to-air threats before being detected; and stealth, which allows the plane to operate in an environment where other aircraft typically can not.

“Viewers of the air show will see a world-class act and high-performance enhanced maneuvers,” Shelhorse added.

Joining the F/A-18 and F-22 will be aircraft from the German and Canadian air forces, as well as local and national aerobatic acts.

Military aircraft participating in the show will once again be operating from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base, whose Airmen have provided hundreds of hours of support to Thunder.

“The Kentucky Air National Guard is always pleased to support Thunder Over Louisville, which kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival each year,” said Capt. Josh Ketterer, Thunder coordinator for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing. “By partnering with the Kentucky Derby Festival, we have an incredible opportunity to reach a tremendous amount of people and share with them the amazing capabilities of America’s military aircraft and the dedicated men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces.”

Check out this video about a Kentucky Guardsman who will be flying his own aircraft in the show.

Story by Capt. Jayson McDonald, 613th Engineer Facilities Detachment

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Spc. Matthew Debord with the 613th Engineer Facilities Detachment sets up for a survey of a railroad station near Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, February, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Jayson McDonald)

MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania — Soldiers with the Kentucky National Guard’s 613th Engineer Facilities Detachment arrived at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, referred to as MK Transient Passenger Center, with less than one month until the transient mission was to be fully operational. With the closing of the transient center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, the U.S shifted its focus to MK Air Base, situated approximately 25 miles from Romania’s Black Sea port town of Constanta, to serve has the major transient hub for troops moving to and from Afghanistan.

To see all photos from this story, please click HERE.

The 613th immediately begun coordinating with the 21st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), charged with the transient operation, to prioritize efforts on ground to meet the fully operational date at the end of February. The 21st identified not only several minor construction projects expanding the transient center’s infrastructure to support the influx of troops but also other service requirements critical to the transient mission success.

“This was a strategic level mission where time was essential to its success and any delay would mean failure,” said Lt. Col. Dean Gosney, commander of the 613th. “We had to coordinate with multiple organizations to meet their requirements and focus on the sole priority of providing critical life support to American Forces while making sure they were as comfortable as possible during their transition.”

As an engineer facilities detachment, the 613th provides real property management, repair and maintenance operations, facility design capabilities, and construction management responsibilities to the engineer mission. With such a massive effort to ready MK for the transient mission, the 613th applied their diverse engineer expertise to support the Department of Public Works and Contract Officer representatives, responsible for the sustainability and maintenance of MK, prepare for the increased workload of moving troops through.

With the transient mission receiving high visibility, the 613th managed and monitored the completion of several projects occurring simultaneously during the month of February. They provided quality assurance for projects such as constructing additional billeting tents, briefing tents, additional bathroom units, expanding the Morale,Welfare and Recreation facilities, installation of emergency generators providing critical backup power to the base, increasing force protection measures, and even installing security fencing for the Customs area.

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Lt. Col. Dean Gosney And Sgt. 1st Class Jerrod Franklin with the 613th Engineer Facilities Detachment accompany Col. Michael Snyder, Commander of the 21st Theater Sustainment Brigade on a walk-through of transient barracks at Transit Center Mihail Kogalniceanu in Romania, February, 2014. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Jayson mcDonald)

While in the midst of managing construction projects, the 613th provided contract support, working closely with representatives from Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) and contract officer representatives from the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Engineer, United States Europe to ensure project deadlines were met. MK Transient Center operates under a fixed price service contract, currently managed by KBR, providing scheduled services such as janitorial, laundry operations, trash pickup and even cooks. The 613th drafted necessary contract documents and legal documents needed to make essential changes to ongoing projects, considered unscheduled services by KBR. They even identified and prepared design documents for future projects necessary for the continued success of the transient mission at MK.

The 613th also coordinated with the 16th Theater Sustainment Command to organize billeting efforts ensuring that the maximum amount of bunks were available to the 2,000 transient troops as well as the 350 assigned as permanent party. They worked with U.S. Forces Customs to meet certain sanitation and security requirements before the customs operations could even begin shipping equipment as well as troops to the United States. The 613th even supported joint operations between the U.S. and Romanian Forces by providing surveying and design expertise to complete documents for a future railhead expansion critical to future operations by Romanian Forces at MK. They submitted all the necessary project documents to the local Romanian municipalities and Mihail Kogalniceanu city council for approval on behalf of the U.S. and Romanian Forces.

Shortly after the 613th returned to Kentucky, a ribbon cutting ceremony occurred in the customs processing tent marking that MK Transient Center stood ready to receive the full flow of troops in and out of Afghanistan. Eventually, the MK Transient Center will accommodate more than 1,800 troops in the newly completed transient tents and facilities. The 613th laid the cornerstone for an operation that will ultimately serve as the primary gateway for Soldiers deploying and redeploying in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“The DoD asked Kentucky to step up to the plate for a strategic level operation that was critical to U.S. interests, and as always, we did our job and we did it well,” said Gosney.