NEWS | Jan. 25, 2022

National Guard leaders visit Kentucky Guardsmen

By Spc. Danielle Sturgill 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Kentucky National Guard leadership welcomed National Guard Bureau’s senior leaders on Jan. 23-24, to recognize Guard members for their efforts and thank them for supporting local communities in western Kentucky.

National Guard Bureau's Senior Enlisted Advisor, Chief Master Sgt. Tony Whitehead and Army National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. John T. Raines III, along with Kentucky’s State Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Withers, Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. James Tongate,  met with Soldiers in Mayfield and Murray, Ky., to encourage the troops to share thoughts about their experience with the tornado response mission.

“It’s a great feeling for the Soldiers to know their voices are being heard,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Raby, operations sergeant for the 438th Military Police Company. “They work without question or wavering. I think the best thing so far has been knowing that senior leadership cares.”

Approximately 700 Soldiers from the Kentucky National Guard answered the call to support emergency management personnel across 15 counties. The mission has been to clear roadways of debris, conduct relief operations, and other civil support tasks.

“We take care of our community and our own, because our home is our area of operations,” said SEA Whitehead. “We’re guardsmen, this is just what we do.”

The tornado first reached Mayfield Dec. 10 at approximately 9:26 p.m, spending three hours on the ground and covering a total of 165.7 miles.

“All the Soldiers are volunteers,” said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Toncray, liaison officer for the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. “They want to see the mission out till its end. Their concern is for the community to be in a better place so that we can step off knowing that we did all we can do and move on to the next mission.”

Toncray estimated that the Mayfield Fairgrounds point of distribution site had initially received around two thousand pallets worth of food, water, and other resources. Even as the inclement weather persisted with snow and ice storms, Soldiers consistently provided support to the local community.

“That’s one thing I’ll take back with me; The resiliency of us as Kentuckians, as Americans, as Guardsmen,” said Raines.

The senior leaders concluded their Kentucky visit on Jan. 23 with a professional development discussion with enlisted soldiers at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky.

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