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NEWS | Sept. 25, 2023

National Guard Armory named after NCO who served decades to the Guard

By Andy Dickson, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

Kentucky Army National Guard leadership, veterans, and family of Alpha Co. 1-149th Infantry Battalion gathered at the National Guard Armory in Harlan, Kentucky for the renaming and dedication of the armory on Sept. 21, 2023.

The name change from the Harlan National Guard Armory to the 1st Sgt. Ottis W. Capps National Guard Armory was in honor of a first sergeant who dedicated decades of his career and life to making the armory a community gathering area and a home to infantry Soldiers.

1st Sgt. Ottis Capps served the battalion since 1967 when he first enlisted and then served as in a full-time administrative role as readiness, supply, training, and maintenance NCO for 30 years at the Harlan armory.

The master of ceremonies, Command Sgt. Maj. Gordon Hinkle, a retired senior enlisted leader for the 1-149th Infantry Battalion who served with Capps, shared how Capps influenced his career even when he progressed to the position of command sergeant major.

“I worked in Harlan on a daily basis and during that time, 1st Sgt. Capps taught me what leadership was all about,” said Hinkle. “He made me realize that taking care of Soldiers was the most important duty we had, and the mentorship I got from him then, went a long way in guiding my military career.”

Over the years, many of the future flag officers from the Kentucky Army National Guard started their careers with the infantry battalion. Brig. Gen. Charlie Jones, a retired commander of the infantry battalion and current executive director of the Department of Military Affairs, as well as the keynote speaker for the event named of the many general officers that Capps influenced.

“As Command Sgt. Maj. Hinkle stated earlier without him [Capps] or a Mountain Warrior mentor; several of us wouldn’t be here,” said Jones. “To name a few Maj. Gen. retired Ron Mason, 35th Infantry Division; Maj. Gen. retired Don Storm, Kentucky [past] adjutant general; Maj. Gen. Bryan Howay, 1st East Commander; Maj. Gen. Hal Lamberton, [current] adjutant general; Brig. Gen. Joe Lear, assistant adjutant general; Gen. Ron Woodson; and myself.”

Capps wife, Sherry, and his two sons, Jeff and Jason, were on-hand to unveil the bronze plaque bearing Capps’ name.

Additionally, Hinkle recognized Staff Sgt. Clayton Sparks for taking over the naming nomination process, a lengthy process that initiates the formal renaming of a military building.

“The effort you put into this endeavor reflects the Army's core values - duty, honor, and respect,” said Hinkle. “Your dedication ensures that the legacy of the 1st Sgt. Ottis Capps will forever be remembered within the walls of our armory.”

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