NEWS | July 31, 2021

Long assumes responsibility of Mountain Warrior battalion

By Capt. Cody Stagner, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Command Sgt. Maj. Will Long was joined with family and honored guests as he assumed responsibility of 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry during a ceremony held at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, July 31.

Long, who rejoins the Mountain Warriors after nearly a decade of assignments outside the organization, replaces outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Benzie Timberlake as the infantry battalion's senior non-commissioned officer.

Timberlake will assume the responsibility of the 75th Troop Command in a ceremony to be held later this year.

Distinguished guests included Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Withers, the state command sergeant major, Col. Timothy Starke, commander of the 75th TC, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Rowan, 75th TC senior NCO, Col. Christopher J. Samulski, commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Command Sgt. Maj. Reed, 116th IBCT senior NCO, and Lt. Col. Eddie Simpson, former commander of the Mountain Warriors and current deputy commander of the 116th IBCT.

Maj. Jason Mendez, commander of the 1-149th, praised Timberlake for his leadership over the past four years.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Timberlake becomes a part of the 1-149th Infantry’s rich history as we farewell one outstanding senior leader,” said Mendez. “Timberlake has provided sound leadership and continuity that has spanned three commands. Alongside of Lt. Col. Simpson they conducted a platoon combined arms maneuver and a warfighter with the 116th IBCT. Next, with Lt. Col. Jason Penn, the battalion conducted CPX’s, an XCTC rotation, prepared for JRTC, conducted a civil disturbance response and took part in Operation Capital Response and answered the call to numerous missions regarding the pandemic.”

“In 2020, we had to shift our focus because of COVID-19 to security at hospitals, quarantine sites, screening sites, vaccination and testing sites,” said Timberlake. “We responded to ice, snow, and remote flooding all within a month of each other, not to exclude the civil support missions in Louisville and Washington,” Timberlake recalled.

“Now we're prepping for deployments. And for many of you this is the culmination of everything you have learned and worked for,” said Timberlake while addressing the Battalion.

Mendez thanked Timberlake for his advice as he prepares his battalion for deployments to the Horn of Africa and Kosovo. He then bid farewell to Timberlake as he moves on to his next assignment.

Attendees at the event witnessed the passing of the NCO Sword from the outgoing command sergeant major to the incoming command sergeant major. This sword ceremony is symbolic of the change of responsibility and signifies the relinquishing authority of the outgoing senior NCO back to the commander, and then the delegation of authority from the commander on to the new senior NCO.

During the sword ceremony, Long accepted authority, responsibility and care of the unit when he received the NCO sword from Mendez.

Mendez shared with the audience his confidence in Long, who brings many years of experience to the senior leader role.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Long has an impressive background and is no stranger to the 1-149th Infantry,” said Mendez. “There is no doubt in my mind this assignment will be the highlight of his career.”

Long’s history with the battalion goes back more than 20 years. He started his military career with the infantry and first served with Alpha Co. until he volunteered to deploy with Delta Co. in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005-2006. He left the battalion as a staff sergeant in 2009 to pursue a Title-10 AGR career, only to volunteer to join the battalion during their next call-up to support Operation New Dawn in 2011.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Long is a leader who has a passion for training and developing others,” said Mendez. “He is as tactically proficient as any leader you will find, he has a heart for this battalion, and he is grateful for the opportunity to lead our very best.”

In his comments to the unit, Long commended the battalion for its dedication to excellence and left his new unit with a few words of encouragement to conclude the ceremony, which occurred during the battalion's annual training.

“I am really proud to see the progress that you all have made,” said Long. “Things really came a long way and the unit is looking good. But with that said, right now is time to step it up. So, for the next two weeks, I need you to train hard, train like your life depends on it, and at the same time, remain safe. I look forward to getting out there and meeting every one of you. Mountain Warrior Seven, signing on.”