Mountain Warriors pay special tribute to outgoing commander at change of command

Nov. 13, 2013 | By kentuckyguard
Story by 1st. Lt. Joshua Witt, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative [caption id="" align="alignright" width="450"]DSC_0284 Lt. Col. Jeffrey D. Cole relinquishes command of 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry to Maj. Joseph D. Lear at the Joint Readiness Center in London, Ky., Nov. 2. (U.S. Army National Guard photo taken by 2nd Lt. Adam Disney) LONDON, Ky. -- November 2, 2013 -- The autumn sun shined brightly on 1st Battalion 149th Infantry's change of command ceremony this weekend. The event was held outdoors at the Joint Readiness Center in London on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 2. Immediately prior to the official ceremony, outgoing commander Lt Col. Jeff Cole was honored with a beautifully engraved custom Kentucky Long Rifle. The gift was presented by members of the battalion on behalf of all Mountain Warriors. For all photos from this event, please click HERE. Endearing family, life-long friends, dedicated Soldiers and four former Battalion Commanders gathered again to show their admiration for the long standing leadership heritage of the 1-149th, the last maneuver battalion in the state. Retired Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Donald Storm, and current Deputy Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell, along with numerous other senior leaders were in attendance for the event. The Brigade Commander of the 75th Troop Command, Col. Michael Abell, served as the Reviewing Officer for the ceremony. “I simply could not be more proud of these two men,” he humbly stated with respect to Cole and incoming commander Maj. Joe Lear. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="269"]DSC_0154 Lt. Col. Jeffrey D. Cole  receives a gift from the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry for his time as the battalion commander. Cole relinquished his command to Maj. Joseph Lear at the Joint Readiness Center in London, Ky., Nov. 2. (U.S. Army National Guard photo taken by 2nd Lt. Adam Disney) During his remarks, Cole offered specific guidance to his troops with one final command, “Take care of your families, take care of yourselves, and consider where you place your hope.” A little more than one year ago, Cole accepted command from Lt. Col. Bryan Howay. In May of 2013, Cole was surprisingly diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Despite multiple bouts with chemotherapy and various experimental treatments, he has continued to lead the battalion by maintaining almost daily contact with his then Executive Officer, Maj. Lear. “Jeff, your strength, courage and faith are amazing and an inspiration to us all," said Lear. "I feel certain that with God’s help, you will ‘sucker punch cancer in the mouth’,” quoting from Cole’s blog. “I almost feel sorry for the leukemia. It should never have messed with Jeff Cole,” he continued during his first comments as Battalion Commander. The two have been compatriots in the infantry Battalion for over a decade. They have each served in multiple leadership and staff positions, refining each other and developing countless leaders within the infantry community. Lear went on to proudly assert, “We are the battalion every other member of the National Guard wants to be part of. You see it in their eyes, when they run the grenade course; they all want to be Infantry.” Needless to say, the legacy of the Mountain Warriors will continue on due to the selfless contributions of many as they collectively proclaim 'Defending Freedom!'”  

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