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NEWS | Dec. 19, 2023

Kentucky Guard Recruiters awarded for hard work

By Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Crane, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Leaders from the Kentucky Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion awarded recruiters during an award ceremony held at the Galt House Hotel Dec. 16.
The event kicked off with a social that allowed the Soldiers and their Families to mingle before awards were handed out.


A total of 37 recruiters, each reaching or exceeding their recruiting mission, were awarded a full-sized baseball bat from Louisville Slugger. Unique to each was their name engraved on the bat's head.  

Also recognized during the ceremony was the Recruiter of the Year/Director's 54, which went to Sgt. 1st Class Heather York, and Recruiting Rookie of the Year, which went to Staff Sgt. Houston Aglin.  

Maj. Gen. Hal Lamberton, the Adjutant General for Kentucky, praised the Soldiers for their hard work and dedication.
“I salute everybody here in the room for your efforts. I’m appreciative of it,” said Lamberton.

He went on to say, “This evening is not just for you Soldiers, but it is also for Families, because we cannot be successful in anything we do without their support.”

Addressing the Families, Lamberton said, "Recruiting is not an easy job. Your spouse, your significant other, does not work a nine-to-five schedule, does not work routinely Monday through Friday, so I applaud your efforts." 

Lt. Col. Jason Mendez, the commander of the battalion, recognized the efforts of his Soldiers.

“As busy as we are it's so important that we stop and recognize the hard work and commitment that all our Soldiers put in day in and day out,” said Mendez. “We wanted to make sure that we brought the entire team together which isn’t easy because we are spread across the state.  Regardless, we want to recognize the success and achievements of the recruiters that we have on this team.”

The commander also spoke on what the significance of the bats that were awarded to his Mission Makers.

“The battalion motto is ‘We Make Mission’ and when you achieve your mission then you’ve obtained the title Mission Maker,” he said. “It's a big deal and receiving a “Mission Maker” baseball bat symbolizes their achievement and a year’s worth of hard work.  Tonight, we kept with battalion tradition and recognized our best in the same manner that has taken place in the past.”

There were a few special awards handed out: The Heavy Hitter Award went to the recruiter with the highest number of enlistments; the Expert 7 nominee was awarded to a top section chief; and the highly coveted Director’s 54 went to the overall top recruiter.

York, the awardee for the Director's 54, has served in the Kentucky Guard since 2005. She enlisted as a combat medic but has been recruiting Guardsmen in the Ashland area for the past seven years. Receiving the Directors 54 is something she accepts but insists to credit others. 

“I really feel undeserving because of how much effort and work that I know every single one of us put in,” she said. “I appreciate the recognition, but I definitely feel it's something that everyone in this room deserves.” 

York then spoke about the top qualities in her job and the importance of work ethic as a recruiter.

“The job never really stops--you always have to be flexible,“ she said. “A good work ethic is definitely a foundation that you must have. The job can really try your resiliency, so you have to be strong, mentally, as well as work hard to maintain a subject-matter-expert-level of the information so that you can take care of your applicants. And it definitely takes a team. I couldn't have done it without everyone from my teammates all the way up the chain of command.” 

Acknowledging York's exemplary work ethic, Mendez recognized her as a standout Soldier in the battalion. 

"She's a great example of an NCO and a great ambassador for this battalion," said Mendez. “It is appropriate that she was recognized as our Directors 54.”

As the ceremony winded down, the battalion honored ten Soldiers who will be retiring from the Guard.  

“It’s important that we also treat this as a farewell opportunity and thank them for what they have done,” added Mendez.  

The last word was given to retired Command Sgt. Maj. Johnnie Parton. 

Parton spoke to the Soldiers and shared some memories of his over 28 years of service to the military, 18 years of those in the Kentucky Army National Guard. 

“You will miss your time in service when you start your retirement journey,” said Parton. “But, the memories will last a lifetime. Most of you have given me memories that I will take with me for the rest of my life, and I do appreciate that more than you will ever imagine. On behalf of my wife, Bethany, we appreciate you. We understand the hard work you do--the challenges you face--but we also understand the Kentucky National Guard has the best Soldiers in the entire Guard.”

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