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NEWS | April 12, 2022

A Call to Action

By Sgt. Matt Damon, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry

It seemed like just another day in the city of Kamenica, Kosovo. Traffic was much heavier than normal and at a standstill with a tractor-trailer blocking the road.

Sgt. Jessey McDaniel, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Kentucky National Guard, and member of one of Kosovo Force’s Liaison Monitoring Teams, was traveling to a Soldier level engagement with the director of economic development for Kamenica. Just outside of Partes, Kosovo, McDaniel and a teammate circumvented the traffic to assess the situation. They found a live power line lying in the road and a man nearby.

“We noticed a victim lying face down on a ladder that was on the ground near a utility pole,” said McDaniel. “It was apparent that while the victim was working on the power line, a tractor trailer had struck the low hanging power line and pulled the man off the ladder.”

After assessing the situation, McDaniel retrieved his Combat Lifesaver bag and began to provide aid. He observed multiple lacerations to the victim's face and considerable blood loss. In addition to that, the victim appeared concussed and had diminished responsiveness. McDaniel provided aid until the victim was transported to a hospital in Gjilan, Kosovo.

McDaniel continued, “My training kicked in and I started informing those that needed to be aware, starting with Kosovo Police. I was able to get a dispatcher who spoke English, and was able to inform them of the situation, location and that the victim had been transported to the hospital. There was still the issue of a live power line and tractor-trailer blocking the road and police were dispatched to the location.”

McDaniel then called the back to base to inform his leadership of the situation, ensuring his chain of command was aware of the degraded route status before continuing his mission in Kamenica.

“I do not feel like I did anything special,” said McDaniel. “Our mission here is to help people and that is what we were able to do.”

According to Capt. Andrew Diehl, the commander of Delta Company, 1-149 INF., since reenlisting with the National Guard in 2020, McDaniel has been a leader that commanders can count on to accomplish any task. McDaniel is one of only two senior gunners in his company.

He has attended the Heavy Weapons Leaders Course, Senior Gunner Course, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected trainer course, Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck Operator Course as well as weapons familiarization courses for M240L, M2, M320, and M500. Capt. Deihl stated that McDaniel has volunteered for all of these courses with the intention of bettering himself and the unit, in order to make the Battalion a more lethal fighting force.

“He is one of the most disciplined individuals in the company and creates a positive working environment wherever he is,” said Capt. Andrew Diehl, the commander of Delta Company, 1-149 INF. “He seamlessly blends professionalism and humor, which allows all soldiers in the company to enjoy being around Sgt. McDaniel.”

McDaniel said he joined the Kentucky National Guard to be part of something bigger than himself. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and criminology and a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Prior to deploying, McDaniel served as a parole officer for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky with his German Shepherd, Murphy.

Diehl continued, “McDaniel is an excellent example of a Soldier who lives by the Soldier’s Creed and encapsulates all the qualities of a non-commissioned officer and leader in the Kentucky National Guard.”

The Battalion Commander of 1-149 INF., Lt. Col. Jason Mendez, said, “In that moment, he was the face of every American Soldier - caring, capable, and willing. His willingness and ability to remain calm, provide first aid, and stay with the injured local citizen until help arrived, affirms our commitment to the people of Kosovo. Additionally, this is indicative of who he is as a Soldier, leader and person.”

U.S. National Guard Soldiers from Kentucky currently represent a portion of the U.S.' contribution toward the 3,600 troops provided to KFOR by 28 countries working towards maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.

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