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NEWS | Jan. 30, 2023

Kentucky Infantry officer promoted to colonel

By Capt. Cody Stagner, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Kentucky Army National Guard (KYARNG) Lt. Col. Jason P. Penn was promoted to the rank of colonel during a ceremony at Wellman Armory in Frankfort, Ky., on Jan. 18, 2023. 
Penn, a current staff member of Joint Forces Headquarters and the deputy United States Property and Fiscal Officer for the KYARNG, will take command of the 75th Troop Command later this spring. 
Maj. Gen. Haldane Lamberton, the adjutant general for the Kentucky National Guard, hosted the event in Penn’s honor. 
“It is a genuine honor to go ahead and not just recognize you but promote you to colonel,” said Lamberton to the Barbourville native. “It doesn’t happen to everybody, and it really is a special deal, a special event in the military, in the Army, and the Infantry, to become a full colonel.” 
Penn spent 17 years of his traditional Guard career with the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, and commanded the unit, headquartered in Barbourville, from 2019 to 2021. This was a feat commonly shared by Lamberton commanding Kentucky’s Infantry from 2004 to 2005.  
Lamberton addressed the audience, “It's not just the potential of the individual for continuing further service to the organization, but very much reflective of what [Penn] has already done.” 
As part of Kentucky Guard tradition, Penn was pinned by his wife and three daughters. 
Addressing the audience in turn, Penn expressed gratitude for the mentorship and responsibility entrusted to him by his senior leaders and the support, influence, and motivation he received from his colleagues, friends, and family. 
“Because of the relationships I have developed with each and every one of you over the course of our careers, my biggest strength [as a leader] is the people that surround me,” said Penn. 
Penn has served 22 years in the Kentucky Guard and deployed multiple times to the Middle East, twice with the Infantry unit and once with the 2113th Transportation Company. 
Penn shared with the audience many lessons he learned with personal anecdotes from his dual careers.  
“Since my employer already fully understands the dynamic of me being in the military, it takes the stress out of my life to know I’m not jeopardizing my civilian career during a call-out. I wish all M-Day Soldiers could say that.” 
His ability to network and build on relationships enabled his success at the highest point of both careers. However, Penn claims his family is what keeps him there. 
“Leaders help others reach goals and overcome obstacles,” said Penn. “They provide purpose, motivation, and direction. If you break it down into those terms, I will say my parents always gave me direction. My wife, Jessica, my three children, Mollie, Sophia, and Amelia, and my belief in Jesus Christ provide me with purpose. Motivation comes from the challenges associated with being in the military, and there are unique and different trials every day.”

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