NEWS | Jan. 6, 2022

Kentucky Army National Guard infantry battalion ready to deploy to Kosovo

By Andy Dickson, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

Approximately 200 Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers gathered for a departure ceremony at Lexcity Church in Lexington, Ky., on January 6th, 2022. 

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Brigade were joined by friends and family for the ceremony to wish them well before deploying to Kosovo in support of Operation Joint Guardian. 

Led by Lt. Col. Jason Mendez and Command Sgt. Major Will Long, Units from Barbourville (Headquarters & Headquarters Co.), Middlesboro (Delta Co.) and Ravenna (Charlie Co.) will make up Task Force Mountain Warrior to provide security operations throughout the region. 

“The past several years as we’ve been preparing for deployment, we’ve had a number of state missions that the Battalion has taken part in,” said Mendez, the commander of the 1st Battalion. “Our Soldiers and families have had to demonstrate resilience and a level of sacrifice that further speaks to their commitment to both our state and federal missions. For that, we are all truly grateful.” 

Col. Timothy Starke, the 75th Troop Command’s brigade commander also spoke about the value the Kentucky National Guard brings to this overseas mission. 

“Stability in Europe is incredibly important for our national interests and those of our allies,” said Starke. “I, personally, am very proud, though not at all surprised, that the mission is being entrusted to the Kentucky National Guard's only infantry battalion.” 

The unit's combat history goes back to the Mexican War; starting with the Battle of Buena Vista. Since then, the unit fought on both sides of the Civil War, World War I, and World War II to include New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon. 

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment has deployed three times in support of the War on Terror - Operation Noble Eagle in 2001, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2007, and Operation New Dawn 2011-2012. 

On Wednesday, the Kentucky National Guard also said farewell to members of the 438th Military Police Company, out of Murray, Ky., who will deploy to Kosovo as well to provide Military Police Liaison Officer support for Operation Joint Guardian.

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