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NEWS | May 30, 2023

Kentucky Infantry unit welcomes new commander

By Capt. Cody Stagner, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

The 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, headquartered in Barbourville, held a change of command ceremony at the Harold L. Disney Training Center on May 21.

In a formal handover of responsibility, Lt. Col. Jason W. Mendez relinquished his command of the unit to Lt. Col. Jason T. Partin through the passing of the battalion colors.

(Click here for photos of the event)

The event was overseen by Col. Jared Lake, commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 29th Infantry Division.

"This change of command marks the formal transfer of authority from one great leader to another, and ensures the legacy of this organization continues with the leadership required to successfully accomplish the level of tasks assigned," Lake said during his speech.

He commended Mendez, the Spencer County native, for his commitment to the wellness and readiness of the battalion and his implementation of a new leader orientation program focused on developing future leaders.

Looking forward to the future, Lake also praised Partin's proven record and expressed confidence in his ability to guide the battalion through upcoming XCTC (eXportable Combat Training Capability) and JRTC (Joint Readiness Training Center) rotations, and a future mobilization still years down the road.

The 1-149th serves two brigades. The 116th IBCT out of Virginia, has tactical control (TACON) of the battalion, while the 75th Troop Command in Kentucky exercises administrative control (ADCON).

Col. Jason P. Penn, commander of the 75th and former infantry battalion commander, reflected on the leadership transition.

"Jason Mendez provided steady and preeminent leadership. He proved to be the right leader at the right time for this storied organization," Penn said.

Penn added, welcoming Partin back to the infantry battalion, "Lt. Col. Partin is no stranger to the Mountain Warriors. Partin is an incredibly poised, measured, passionate and competent officer."

Penn remarked on the significance of continuity during a change in leadership.

"This ceremony is a change of command and not a change of commander for a reason, because commanders come and go, but the command marches on toward the objective," said Penn.

Speaking to his troops one last time, Mendez highlighted their valuable contributions during deployments to Kosovo and Djibouti and the significance of their collaborations with NATO partners and allies. He acknowledged his long tenure with the battalion, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to serve alongside his troops.

He then welcomed the incoming commander.

"As my time in this battalion comes to an end, I couldn't be more thankful to have passed the colors to a career Mountain Warrior, Jason Partin. He is a leader that always leads from the front and enjoys training alongside our Soldiers," Mendez said.

After taking the colors, Partin stated, "Mountain Warriors, it is an honor and a privilege to be taking the colors, and you Mountain Warriors is what this is all about.”

Partin’s tenure as leader of the Mountain Warriors will face many new challenges.

“We have a slight dip in OPTEMPO (operational tempo) coming off recent deployments. But we will continue to train, and our leader development program will continue to produce the finest of Soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers in the KYARNG,” he said.

Partin was born and raised in Barbourville and believes in serving his country and his community. As an M-Day Soldier, he dawns a separate uniform between drills that allows him to follow both of his two greatest mentors.

“I always looked up to my dad being a trooper with the Kentucky State Police,” he said. “He never pushed me, but I still followed his footsteps. And another is my late grandfather who served in World War II. He was the hero I always aspired to be.”

The modest KSP sergeant claims service as a state trooper has benefited his military career. The police force reinforces high expectations, discipline, professionalism, and camaraderie, which are all traits he brings to his command, including his passion for fighting for our freedoms.

“I understand the sacrifices that our Soldiers and their families make,” he said. “As a KYARNG Soldier serving as a Citizen-Soldier, we demand a lot, however, you must remember as President Ronald Reagan once said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away.’ So, we’ve got to keep going…We, as infantry, must be prepared for war, yet pray for peace. the next fight may be like none other, and we will be prepared and ready.”

The 1-149th will go back to the fundamentals over the next couple of years while focusing on training individual-, squad-, and platoon-level infantry tactics to best prepare for a large-scale combat environment.


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