Green Mountain Guard August 2021

TAG's Corner

Maj. Gen. Greg Knight released a statement Aug. 18 regarding the developments in Afghanistan leading up to the current evacuation efforts:

Like you, I've been watching the situation in Afghanistan over the past 48 hours. If you deployed to Afghanistan, you may feel right now like you've somehow 'failed.' I want to assure you that nothing is further from the truth. The Vermonters who deployed to Afghanistan served with honor and distinction: our military members execute the mission they are given, no matter how challenging. You did your job and no one will ever take that away from you.
For our Service Members who gave their lives in Afghanistan, and those impacted over the 20 years of our time there, please continue to hold them and their families in our hearts.
If you or someone you know is struggling, I encourage you to reach out. Talk to me directly; talk to a mental health specialist, a battle buddy, a commander, or a first sergeant. We have resources available to you at www.vtguard.com/assist.

In August's TAG's Corner, Maj. Gen. Greg Knight discussed the release of the 2020 Organizational Assessment, conducted by the National Guard Bureau's Office of Complex Investigations.

Resources regarding the Organizational Assessment are available at www.vtguard.com/org-assessment.

Army National Guard Promotions

  • Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Clark
  • Master Sgt. Hilary Anderson
  • Master Sgt. Isaiah Gomez
  • Master Sgt. Wayne Herrmann
  • Staff Sgt. Christopher Clodgo
  • Sgt. Cameron Arnold
  • Sgt. Ian Kriger
  • Sgt. Kyle Sweet
  • Spc. Jason Anderson
  • Spc. Nathaniel Gurnsey
  • Spc. John Parentsabett
  • Pfc. Tyler Brown
  • Pfc. Elijah LaBounty
  • Pfc. Ashley May
  • Pvt. Christopher Dickinson
  • Pvt. Michael Madrigal
  • Pvt. Jaren Mateo
  • Pvt. Nathan Statires
  • Pvt. Jeffrey Voyer Jr.

Air National Guard Promotions

  • Capt. William Walters Jr.
  • Master Sgt. Ryan Campbell
  • Master Sgt. Christopher Riani
  • Tech. Sgt. Freeman Degboe
  • Staff Sgt. Justin Neovroeum
  • Senior Airman Michael Bachand
  • Senior Airman Lauren Greig

COVER STORY: Father, son reflect on shared service

Tech. Sgt. David LaPierre, 158th Maintenance Group nondestructive inspection craftsman, stands with his son, Staff Sgt. Trevor LaPierre, 158th Maintenance Group low observable aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, for a photo during Red Flag 21-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 28, 2021. David LaPierre has been serving in the U.S. Armed Forces for more than ten years, seven of which have been alongside his son. (photo by Julie Paroline)

Tech. Sgt. David LaPierre has been serving in the U.S. Armed Forces for more than ten years, seven of which have been alongside an important figure in his life: his son.

“It was probably me that inspired or influenced him to join,” said David LaPierre, 158th Maintenance Group nondestructive inspection craftsman, about his son Trevor. “I believe he wanted to do something with his life and something bigger, and he’s been enjoying it.”

Knight discusses Vermont Guard presence in Afghanistan

Maj. Gen. Greg Knight prepares for an interview with NECN's Jack Thurston Aug. 26, 2021, at Camp Johnson, Vermont. Knight answered questions regarding the presence of a contingent of Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain), 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) in Kabul, Afghanistan, to support Operation Allies Refuge, an effort to evacuate U.S. forces and at-risk Afghans from the country. (Photo by Don Branum)

Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont’s adjutant general, discussed the Vermont Guard’s support for Operation Allies Refuge, the current effort in Kabul, Afghanistan, to evacuate U.S. personnel and at-risk Afghan civilians from the country, during an interview with NECN Boston Aug. 26.

The Vermont Guard issued a release Aug. 25 confirming that a small number of Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain), 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), had arrived in Afghanistan to support the Coalition evacuation efforts.

The Vermont National Guard released its organizational assessment findings and recommendations Aug. 8.

Vermont Guard releases organizational assessment

The Vermont National Guard has publically released a 113-page assessment prepared by the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations at the request of VTNG Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight.

In November 2019, shortly after his election as VTNG’s next adjutant general, Knight requested assistance from OCI to provide a detailed assessment of the VTNG command climate and systems. The Guard released the final version of the assessment on Aug. 8.

A Look Back: Hurricane Irene, August 2011

Top Three Images: Soldiers with the Maine Army National Guard help with flood control efforts in early September. Center: Vermont and Ohio National Guard engineers help clear out damage from a washed-out bridge. Lower Three Images: Airmen with the Vermont Air National Guard's 158th Fighter Wing and Soldiers with the Vermont National Guard ferry supplies to affected communities via UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

A Soldier’s story: From Kenyan refugee camp to Vt. National Guard officer

For 2nd Lt. Abdimaik Hashi, newly commissioned in the Vermont National Guard, the road to commissioning as an officer began in 2016 when he enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard. As a 19K armor crewman, Hashi initially drove M1 main battle tanks with A Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion-194th Armor Regiment.

Hashi was not always in the U.S. The first eight years of his life were spent in a refugee camp in Kenya with his mother and two older sisters. In 1992, strife and conflict forced Hashi’s mother to flee her home in Kismayo, Somalia with her daughters.

Regional Command - East hits ground running

Task Force Valkyrie of the 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, conducts Bambi bucket training in Kosovo July 30, 2021. This training ensures readiness if called upon by Kosovo to assist in any wildfires. (Photo by Sgt. Gloria Kamencik)

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – Soldiers from the U.S. Army, including Soldiers from multiple National Guard states, Reserve Component, and Active Duty, as well as soldiers from Poland, Latvia, Switzerland, Turkey, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary, and Italy, have fully established at various locations across Kosovo as part of Regional Command – East. Needless to say, we hit the ground running.

Kosovo has experienced a fair amount of wild fires of late, and RC-E has been called upon to assist in combating fires in the western and northern portions of Kosovo.

Balkan National Support Element transfer of authority

Top Left: Distinguished guests salute while the National Anthem of the United States plays during a transfer of authority ceremony at Camp Film City, Pristina, Kosovo on Aug. 14, 2021. Top Right: Brig. Gen. John Maier, Kosovo Forces chief of staff, passes the BNSE guidon to Maj. Jasen Boyd during the transfer of authority ceremony to signify Boyd's assumption of command. Middle Left: Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Lang passes the saber to Sgt. 1st Class Molly Slater, JPAC NCO in charge, during the ceremony. Bottom Left: The Vermont Battle Flag flies with the American Flag after the transfer of authority was official. The new command team comes from the Vermont National Guard. Bottom Right: Boyd addresses his unit for the first time after taking command. (Photos by Capt. Mike Arcovitch)

KFOR-29: Active Shooter, Mass Casualty Training Exercise

The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain)'s mantra is ‘Ready to Go.’ Training and repetition are paramount to ensuring Soldiers are ready to respond to a variety of situations.

An active shooter is certainly one of those situations.

Regional Command – East conducted an active shooter exercise on Camp Bondsteel on August 12, 2021 to train Soldiers from a variety of sections with a variety of specialties to ensure readiness in the instance of a real-world active shooter. The exercise included active shooters, casualties, response from the joint operations center, civilian emergency responders, medical personnel, security details, and military police responses.

TAG visits North Macedonia, attends Army Day Ceremony

Top left: President Stevo Pendarovski, the president of North Macedonia, arrives to attend a ceremony celebrating Army Day at the Ministry of Defense in Skopje, North Macedonia Aug. 18, 2021. The holiday commemorates the creation of the Mirče Acev battalion in 1943. The battalion laid the foundation of the People's Liberation Army of Macedonia that fought against the Axis forces during WWII. Top right: Brig. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont adjutant general, presents North Macedonia Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska the Vermont Distinguished Service Medal at the Ministry of Defense in Skopje, North Macedonia. Shekerinska is given this award for being an outstanding and vital colleague for the State Partnership Program with the Vermont National Guard. Center: Members of the Vermont National Guard pose for a photo during the Army Day celebration. Bottom Left:Knight meets with British army Lt. Col. Matt Walker, defense attaché assigned to North Macedonia for the United Kingdom. Bottom Right:Knight presents Bekim Maksuti, Director of North Macedonia Protection and Rescue a bottle of Vermont maple syrup after a meeting discussing North Macedonia's capabilities. (photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Alvarez and Sgt. Gloria Kamencik)

VTANG brings Lightning to Red Flag

Top Left: Airmen with the 158th Maintenance Group conduct a foreign object debris walk to check the flightline at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for debris during Red Flag 21-3 on July 27, 2021. Top Center: An Airman prepares an F-35A Lightning II for a training exercise. Top Right: An F-35 takes off for a training exercise designed to give Airmen from multiple Air Force units the chance to operate in an environment simulating real-world operations. Bottom Left: Airmen chock an F-35 and prepare it for post-flight maintenance upon its return from a training exercise. Bottom Right: 1st Lt. Zach Mertes shakes an Airman's hand after returning from a training exercise. (Photos by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell)

Military Working Dogs provide essential role for Camp Bondsteel security

If you visit Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, you may be met at the front gate by Figo and his handler Cpl. Charles West, with the 131st Military Police Detachment. Figo is a Malinois X, a mix of the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepard dog. The combination results in an intelligent, good-natured, level-headed energetic protector of their beloved human.

“I love their energy and personalities, all dogs have different personalities. My last dog was a bit more angry towards working, while Figo is more loving towards work and loves to be around me,” said West. “I love the different personalities of the dogs and how they work. On this rotation our bond has gotten a lot closer than back in our duty station in Germany.”

Soldiers, Airmen discuss structural competence, cultural humility

Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont's adjutant general, presents Dr. Maria Mercedes Avila with a coin during a workshop on structural competence and cultural humility at Vermont Air National Guard Base in South Burlington, Vermont, Aug. 13, 2021. Avila is working with the Vermont National Guard's Joint Diversity Executive Council to improve inclusiveness within the Guard. (Photo by Don Branum)

The Vermont National Guard invited Dr. Maria Mercedes Avila, a member of the Vermont Governor’s Racial Equity Task Force, to conduct a workshop on structural competence and cultural humility at the 158th Fighter Wing in South Burlington, Aug. 13.

In opening remarks for the event, Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, the state adjutant general, said he appreciated the enthusiasm of the Soldiers and Airmen who attended as well as the outside expertise that Avila brought to the Vermont National Guard.

Vermont Airman takes top honor at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland

Airman 1st Class Dalton Fitch-O’Leary, tactical aircraft maintainer assigned to the 158th Maintenance Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, bested more than 700 basic military trainees (BMT) to become the top BMT honor graduate.

To be recognized as an honor graduate in basic military training, trainees are evaluated in a number of areas: physical fitness, living area inspections, leadership points, and the end of course exam. Typically, 10 percent of trainees graduate as honor graduates.

On Drill: August 2021