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NEWS | Nov. 17, 2021

Kentucky JAG officers promote to colonel on same day

By Maj. Gus LaFontaine 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Maj. Gen. Haldane Lamberton, The Adjutant General, gave the opening remarks at the promotion ceremony of Lieutenant Colonels Natalie Lewellen and Jason Shepherd Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky.

“To my awareness, there’s never been an occasion in the Kentucky Army National Guard that we have promoted two JAG officers on the same day to full Colonel,” remarked Maj. Gen. Haldane Lamberton, The Adjutant General.

Lamberton added how rare of an achievement it was for Lewellen and Shepherd to obtain the rank of Colonel.

“When I was a brand new second lieutenant and entering my infantry officer basic course, one of the instructors shared with our class of 200 that only five of us would become full colonels,” he said.

The promotion marked the achievement of a long career by each officer. Lewellen entered military service as an enlisted Soldier serving in the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 75th Troop Command as a legal clerk. Shepherd’s service started in the Marine Corps where he earned his commission as an infantry officer. Both have worked side-by-side in the Kentucky Army National Guard for nearly 20 years. They offered praise for each other.

Shepherd said of Lewellen, “She’s tirelessly worked to better our JAG Corps in Kentucky. You can look at her record of achievement. As far as I’m aware, she’s the first JAG officer in Kentucky to graduate from war college. She was also the distinguished graduate. She works extremely hard.”

Lewellen offered similar praise for Shepherd, “The Kentucky National Guard gets a service from Jason that goes above and beyond what is expected. He goes the extra mile. He thinks strategically by considering second- and third-order effects. What he speaks is genuine. You can always believe what he says, which is important because of the role we play by advising commanders.”

Shepherd described that as part of his duty.

“I always try to remember what it was like to be a rifle platoon commander in the Marine Corps. That’s where the rubber hit the road. What would help me succeed as a rifle platoon commander? When I give advice, I always try to think about what does that rifle platoon commander need to know?” Shepherd said.

They are both part of a Kentucky National Guard JAG corps that features 15 JAG officers who represent Kentucky’s Army National Guard and three who represent Kentucky’s Air National Guard. Shepherd highlighted the readiness of Kentucky’s legal team.

“Our JAG officers go on every one of these missions going out of the door,” Shepherd said.

One of Lewellen’s contributions has been to ensure the entire legal team serving Kentucky’s National Guard has a career progression plan.

Shepherd said, “She’s great at making sure JAG officers in Kentucky get broad experiences in a variety of positions and MACOMs and that they get to the schools that they need when they need them.”

Lewellen reflected, “It feels good to help shape someone’s career so that most everyone who is working to do what’s right can get a chance to serve in one of the very few senior JAG billets in the Kentucky National Guard.”

Shepherd also reflected on what he enjoys about serving in the Kentucky Army National Guard.

He said, “I love how we serve the communities of the state. The Kentucky National Guard makes an impact that’s easy to see, and the JAG Corps gets to be a small part of that.”

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