Tag Archives: Wyoming

Wyoming unit trains in the California heat

On May 31, over 60 soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 297th Infantry Regiment, based out of Afton and Evanston in Wyoming, traded in the normally cool weather of Wyoming for the desert oasis of the National Training Center in Ft. Irwin, California.

Within the expansive sandpit at Ft. Irwin, deemed ‘the box’, Wyoming soldiers met up with other units from around the U.S. in order to participate in training missions. These missions were geared toward helping soldiers be better prepared for future potential deployments.

“The NTC is known for training up companies and organizations to go and deploy,” said 1st Lt. Alyssa Brenner, commander of 1-297th. “What we are doing here is supporting a division-sized movement. Our role as light infantry is to be the decisive operation, clear urban areas, and learn how to work light infantry with mechanized heavy infantry.”

In order to do that, the service members worked tirelessly through scenarios and missions that were handed down to them by the operations team at NTC. They would often wake before dawn to start their training and continue through days that reached well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. During these events, the unit prepares for whatever situations they may face when defending the nation.

“We give the most realistic training you can receive outside of actual combat,” said Cpt. Joshua Kiehl, a primary observer, coach and trainer at NTC. “We replicate every effect, from chemical attacks to anti-tank missile systems. Whatever a soldier may face, it is replicated here.”

Kiehl felt the unit was doing very well during the training events. He believes that this sort of training allows them to learn more than they would be able to at their home station.

“The biggest challenges the units face would be them exercising all the things that they normally aren’t able to,” he said. “Whether that be resupply or casualty evacuations. We always think about engaging the enemy when deployed but these other things aren’t thought of as much even though they are very important.”

Throughout their time in the box, the unit found themselves up against many challenges but found they were able to learn from all of them.

“We completed an urban clearing exercise yesterday and then did it again today,” said Brenner. “From yesterday to today, we changed tactics and it paid off. We had a very good outcome today and I feel people are learning a lot.”

The new commander felt she was not only learning herself but saw a good amount of development at the team and squad leader levels of the unit as well.

After completing their training at NTC the unit is looking forward to coming back to Wyoming and continuing to build their company and on the skills that they learned while in the heat of the California sun.

Wyoming Joint Force Headquarters welcomes new commander

Wyoming Joint Force Headquarters in Cheyenne recently said goodbye to the outgoing commander, Maj. Paul Kanish, and welcomed the new commander, Capt. Jacob Arnold at a ceremony held at the Joint Force Readiness Center. Brig. Gen. Brian Nesvik, commander of the Wyoming Army National Guard, presided over the ceremony with the traditional passing of the colors.

Kanish will still serve as a Wyoming guardsman and has taken an assignment at the National Guard Bureau in Virginia.

Arnold has 21 years under his belt in the Wyoming Guard, with nine of those serving as an active guard reserve officer. He thanked his family for their continued support for the opportunity to serve in uniform and that he wouldn’t be here today without them.

“This new and exciting for me,” Arnold said. “I stand before you humble and excited, ready to help everyone accomplish the mission here at JFHQ.”

Arnold’s first order of business as the unit’s commander was to award Master Sgt. Brock Roush the Army Commendation Medal for his exemplary service to another soldier.

“I look forward to getting to know all the leaders and soldiers here,” Arnold said. “I’m also looking forward to having some fun.”

Recruiting and Retention Battalion welcomes new commander

CAMP GUERNSEY JOINT TRAINING CENTER, Wyo. – Whether joining or leaving service in the Wyoming Military Department, everyone has encountered one of the recruiters from the Recruiting and Retention Battalion of the Wyoming Army National Guard. They are responsible for filling the units around the state, to jobs ranging from infantry to computer specialists.

During a change of command ceremony at the 213th Regional Training Institute on April 11, 2021, in Guernsey, Wyo., the battalion said farewell to their commander and welcomed a new one. Outgoing commander Lt. Col. Mike Pezeshki passed the leadership of the unit on to Maj. Lara Taylor. Taylor will now carry the task of overseeing the battalion’s 44 recruiters as well as all the recruits that come through the unit during her command.

While this new command will bring its challenges, Taylor, who previously served as the executive officer for the battalion, will draw on her 16 years with the Wyoming Guard to overcome those challenges. She is also a 21 year veteran.

“With the foundation created by Lt. Col. Pezeshki, we’re going to be in a very strong position going forward,” Taylor explained.

The battalion will lean on Taylor’s experience as students get back to school and the recruiters get back in the communities now that COVID-19 restrictions are starting to lift. The battalion will also continue to train and prepare recruits for their upcoming school dates with the Recruit Sustainment Program.

The battalion also fulfills the important duty at the military department to meet the demands the state by working to ensure it has the appropriate number of soldiers to complete the missions assigned.

During the three years that Pezeshki was battalion commander, the state saw more recruits under his charge, resulting in more soldiers serving the state overall. These new recruits will spend their time learning the skills necessary to succeed at their initial military schooling. Upon their return they will begin their career with their selected units. Before his command, the battalion would manage approximately 150 new soldiers per year. That number is up to approximately 220 soldiers today.

While excited for his future, leaving the unit was very bittersweet for Pezeshki.

“It’s the best command I ever had,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave.”

Pezeshki will continue to serve the Wyoming Guard by attending the Navy War College in Newport, Rhode Island before going on to serve as a staff officer for the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.

With over 35 years of service between Pezeshki and Taylor, the battalion will be in good hands for years to come.

Restored Spanish-American War flag unveiled

The Wyoming State Museum unveiled a newly restored flag from the Spanish-American War on March 22, 2021 in Cheyenne, Wyo. Descendants of the soldiers from the 1st Wyoming Volunteer Infantry Battalion who served in the Spanish-American war in 1898 were in attendance at the small gathering. The Wyoming Army National Guard’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Gregory Porter, was also in attendance as the guest speaker.

Around 1,000 soldiers in the Wyoming National Guard were selected to serve in the Spanish-American War. The first federal mobilization in Wyoming’s history. In total, 125,000 volunteers were asked to serve in the war effort by President William McKinley.

The flag was presented to the soldiers on June 5, 1898, before they departed for the Philippines. Wyoming’s First Lady Harriet Alice Richards headed the effort to raise the funds to purchase the custom embroidered flag. It returned home with the soldiers upon conclusion of their service in September 1899.

The restoration process began in 2020 and was funded with a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund. Because the flag is still susceptible to damage from light, it will not be on display for long periods of time. A documentary of the flag will be presented in its place when not on display.

“It was an incredible collaboration between so many players that led to this flag coming back to Wyoming,” said Maj. Gen. Gregory Porter, the adjutant general for the Wyoming National Guard. “Those efforts speak to the heart of this State – when it matters, we always come together.”

The flag is on exhibit at the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Employee Spotlight: Mike Walker, Senior Plumber

The Wyoming Military Department is proud to announce Mike Walker as the recipient of the WyMD State Employee of the Quarter award for Q3 of 2020.

As the Senior Plumber for the 153d Civil Engineer Squadron, Mike annually tests and repairs all 76 backflow preventers on base. He also maintains the backflow prevention assembly testers certification. In October, Mike hit his seven-year mark with the WyMD. 

For Mike, the best part about working here is the pride that comes with the position. Working to maintain the plumbing infrastructure of the Wyoming Air National Guard base in Cheyenne and the care and maintenance of fire suppression systems; especially of the aircraft hangers.

Mike is being recognized for seeing an issue and stepping in. After a private contractor completed an inspection of the building’s fire suppression systems, the inspector identified a possible problem. With this information, Mike did some research and was able to troubleshoot the possible problem with some testing procedures. Not only did Mike find there was not a problem with the system in question, but he also saved the organization $40,000 in repairs that the contractor estimated. Furthermore, Mike also has maintained a 94% work order completion rate within 30 days.

94th Troop Command welcomes new commander

94th Troop Command welcomed their new commander, Lt. Col. Marko Rubich, on Nov. 14, 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the change of command ceremony that had been planned to be held in Cheyenne, Wyo. was cancelled in order to comply with local state and health guidelines. Rubich took over command from Lt. Col. Toby Alkire.

Alkire, who served as the 94th’s commander for almost three years, will be moving on to become the Joint Director of Operations in Cheyenne.

“I’m really going to miss this position,” Alkire said. “I am leaving with a heavy heart. We have some of the best leaders in the Wyoming Army National Guard in Troop Command.”

Alkire felt a good majority of the success he found at the 94th came from the exceptional command teams, leadership, and full time staff that were there. He was especially thankful for Command Sgt. Maj. Lindsay Schmidt who helped him throughout his command. He felt that he couldn’t have asked for better people to work alongside.

Alkire also said he is going to miss working with the wide variety of units 94th has, but looks forward to working with domestic operations and Homeland Security. He has no fears that the new commander of 94th will do great.

Rubich previously served with the 115th Field Artillery Brigade where he was the deputy commander. He has been a member of the Wyoming National Guard since 2013, after transferring from active duty.

“The command relationship with soldiers is special compared to almost any role you might have,” Rubich said. “It’s an honor to be able to command 94th Troop Command.”

As commander, Rubich plans to focus on individual soldier readiness, deployment readiness and improving and maintaining relationships with the other units that the 94th is aligned to train with.

Throughout his 16 years in the military, Rubich said he has been a part of many units similar to those that fall under the 94th. He hopes to be able to further the units and help them to become better than they were before.

“This is a privilege that only comes around a couple of times in an officer’s career,” he said, “and my door is always open. I am here for every soldier in the formation, all they need to do is pick up the phone and call me.”

New sidewalk opens to connect Town of Guernsey and Camp Guernsey

The Town of Guernsey and Camp Guernsey are connected in a new way. On Oct. 22, a new sidewalk, the Guernsey Connector, officially opened. The ribbon cutting ceremony gathered Maj. Gen. Gregory Porter, Mayor Nick Paustian, Matt Allred, town planner, and numerous members of the Guernsey community and Camp Guernsey staff.

As the new addition to the project, the sidewalk connects the town and Camp. It runs west from the main gate, hand railing U.S. Highway 26, and ends at S. Colorado Ave. The sidewalk provides a safer way to travel to and from Camp Guernsey.

“It’ also a great example of how a community, such as Guernsey, its mayor council, Camp Guernsey, it’s accompaniment and Commander, and everyone else on the way up the ladder to Maj. Gen. Porter, is going to benefit from the ability to use a route from the camp to town or vice versa, without walking the fog line on the highway,” said Allred.

Porter gave credit to the engineers that worked hard on the sidewalk, as well as the Town of Guernsey.

“You made the community look nicer and safer, certainly for those of us that are on the Camp. It would have been so easy to say, ‘This is too tough to get done.’ But, you didn’t. And you kept going, you made a difference, and you probably saved some lives when it comes down to it,” Porter said.

The Camp Guernsey Connector, as it is officially named, is a piece of the Lucindy Rollins Road project.

“We have made huge strides,” said Allred, after explaining all that was left of the development plan.

The sidewalk is years in the making, as the project’s eighth phase. There is still work to be done, as there are at least three phases and a couple of bridges left.

“This took a lot of work,” said Porter. “It wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t push past the little roadblocks in the way. And nobody said you had to do it. From all of us, I just want to tell you thank you for all the support that Guernsey gives us.”

Wyoming National Guard concludes Cyber Shield exercise

The Wyoming National Guard partnered with the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security to participate in a Cyber Shield 2020 exercise last month. Army and Air Guard members and state employees came together for the training event to test their capabilities for real-world cyberattack scenarios.

The state of Wyoming gains a lot from this type of partnership. One of the principal responsibilities of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security is to support local jurisdictions in times of emergency. WOHS does that through a supply of state and federal resources, and partnerships with agencies like the Wyoming National Guard allow them to be able to help the communities of Wyoming.

The event was initially supposed to take place at Camp Williams, Utah. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to re-evaluate and move the training to a virtual environment. Historically, Wyoming has sent service members to Cyber Shield exercises to augment other state and territory teams. This event was the first time Wyoming operated as an independent team, which was in response to being moved to a virtual environment.

Training like this gives everyone hands-on experience in the event they do get asked to support certain cyber defense security situations that might arise. If requested, the governor can activate the National Guard cyber defensive team. They can be called on to assist in an environment that might involve a company’s critical infrastructure.

“Electrical companies, gas companies who have these large industrial control systems in their environment, we can potentially be called in to assist with that,” says Chief Warrant Officer 4 Warren Burgess, the information security manager for the Wyoming Military Department. “Even though they are a private organization, because they are determined to be critical infrastructure, we can be brought in to assist.”

The team kicked off the exercise with a scenario in which a company was concerned about its network. The company asked for recommendations on their security. In the process of helping the company improve its security, the team discovered a breach. They responded to that breach by helping fight whoever attacked the network, tighten it down to where it was safe again, and get the company back to business as usual.

There were several different scenarios presented to the team. These scenarios included issues like website defacement, ransomware, and phishing attacks. Website defacement can be something as simple as changing a picture to make a company look bad. Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts files, and the hacker demands money to fix said malware. The most common type of ransomware is phishing. Phishing is when a user clicks on a phishing email attachment that could then send usernames and passwords to a hacker who now has access to that network.

But there are systems in place set up to detect these types of attacks. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and even just an inventory of a company’s network can alert users to possible issues.

“I am working on the log analysis team. That means I am utilizing tools and an intrusion detection system to try and look for alerts that the system has was compromised,” says Tech. Sgt. Angel Wiles, a cybersecurity subject matter expert and participated in the exercise virtually. “I review lots of technical data that comes through, and then I have to decipher what that means, and what’s happening so that I can report it to other teams who are also helping to monitor for those things.”

These tools help prevent cyberattacks on a system. If they don’t stop an attack, they at least give the cyber team information they need to fight it.

There are a lot of benefits that come from a collaboration like this. Getting to know faces and getting comfortable working with each other will make it easier in the future if they are all pulled in to assist in a cyber-defense situation. The team can also learn the different ways each person does things, and perhaps learn a new, more efficient way to do something.

“I think it’s good to get a lot of outside perspectives, and lots of outside feedback, to say that’s one way to do it, but you could also do x, y, and z,” says Wiles.

The event was also the first time the team operated jointly. No one had ever interacted with each other before. Burgess reached out to find participants from the state first, then asked the Air Guard to see if they wanted to participate. They jumped on the opportunity. The exercise brought all the IT cyber responders into a single environment to train together. Burgess hopes this is the first step to help everyone work together in the future.

133rd Engineer Company completes recertification for reaction force training

The morning began bright and hot as Soldiers from the 133rd Engineer Company formed up and began classroom training outside for their National Guard Reaction Force recertification. The Wyoming Army National Guard partners with the Air National Guard’s 153rd Security Forces Squadron instructors in order to receive recertification.

NGRF falls under the National Guard Support to Civil Authorities, which is the process by which civil authorities can request military assistance. The NGRF is called upon by the governor in the event local law enforcement needs additional support for situations like crowd control or entry point security.

“These are things that need to be done in the event some sort of riot crisis or security issue arises that we need to resolve,” says Lt. Col. Cole Kelly, the Director of Military Support for the Joint Operations Center in the Wyoming Military Department.

Kelly signs the recertification for Soldiers, which occurs annually. Comprehensive NGRF training happens at least quarterly, but can be added to Mission Essential Tasks that are performed more often. The 133rd is the unit designated as the NGRF, and has been training every year for the last four years.

133rd Company Commander, 1st Lt. Eric Jacobs, has been with the unit in different capacities for the last six years.

“The whole time that the 133rd has had this unit, I’ve been involved with this training,” he says, whether as platoon leader, executive officer, or now the commander.

Instruction began with demonstration of different tactics for crowd control, all of them aimed to de-escalate tense situations. De-escalation involves the proper handling of non-lethal baton, shield and pepper spray equipment. The Air Guard instructors gave an overview demonstration of the equipment and then turned Soldiers over to stations for hands on experience.

Quarterly training might have set scenarios to run through, but for this day, Soldiers were given the task to come up with and run through their own scenarios.

“They are going to walk through a patrolling scenario and they are going to have to react to some items, such as an Improvised Explosive Device, or some other security situation. Whatever they decide to come up with,” Kelly says. “They’ll walk through different scenarios at separate stations.”

NGRF training benefits the state of Wyoming in that the unit provides support to local law enforcement when needed. Having a trained force ready, whether they are utilized or not, means they will be prepared if the time comes.

“I think it’s important the community sees this training and the National Guard Reaction Force and the Wyoming National Guard as a whole as a resource for them.” Jacobs goes on to say, “If we get called out, it’s not to police people up, it’s to protect Wyoming’s assets. Our most valuable asset is our people.”

153rd Airlift Wing welcomes new wing commander

Col. Barry Deibert assumed command of the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing during a July 11, change of command ceremony at the wing headquarters, in Cheyenne.

Col. Justin Walrath relinquished command, and will now serve as the air liaison officer for the Wyoming Air National Guard.

In Deibert’s address to the wing, he challenged the experienced members of the 153rd to inspire our young airmen to dream and to always make sure they know they are important.

“I promise you that I will work the entire time I’m in this job to ensure that you know, you are important,” said Deibert.

“This wing has done and will continue to do great things.”

“Be proud of who you are and what you’re capable of, you truly are the best of the best,” added Deibert.

Col. Deibert has been with the 153rd since 1986 when he enlisted as a young avionics systems specialist.  He went on to receive his commission and earned his pilot wings in 1993. Deibert has served as the wing’s aircraft maintenance squadron and group commander.

The 153rd Airlift Wing is Wyoming’s sole Air National Guard wing and has a primary mission of providing combat airlift. The wing is also responsible for organizing, training, and equipping a force capable of conducting effective and sustained operations in support of the nation, state, and community.


U.S. Air National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Jon Alderman.

Photos can be downloaded at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wyoguard/albums/72157715088442842

Watch the full change of the command here, brought to you by the WY National Guard’s state and wing Public Affairs Team:


Field artillery conducts live-fire exercise

The 2-300th Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) of the 115th Fires Brigade conducted a live-fire exercise with their high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) last Tuesday. The exercise is the culmination of their annual training in which they are required to qualify with the system every year. But what many may not know is the amount of preparation that goes on before the rockets even fire.

Before firing, they must adhere to strict safety procedures. Fire Direction Officer 2nd Lt. Matthew Buchanan creates and performs the missions for the launchers and also preforms safety analysis.

“I coordinate with range control and build a safety diagram for this range, from and to our desired target,” Buchanan says. “Before the launchers can shoot, they need to verify where they are pointed to make sure they are pointed in a safe direction.”

All of this can be coordinated from a specific location. The Tactical Operations Center (TOC) is the central area where all of the preparation and communication happens. You know when the rockets are about to fire if you are standing near the area as you will start to hear excited chatter over the radios and finally, “Fire when ready!”

Soldiers are given four rockets and are required to hit a target 9,500 meters away in order to qualify. Normally there are 16 HIMARS that fire four rockets each for qualification. This time, there are only four.

This was a different type of annual training for the 2-300th as most of the Soldiers are either deployed or just coming back from deployment, so the number of Soldiers at training is much lower. Because of this, they were able to fire the rest of the rockets, 66 in total, for extra practice between the four HIMARS that were used.

“This is to ensure we are lethal and capable of doing our missions on the battlefield,” says Battalion Operations Officer Maj. Casey Henry. “They’re going through all of their certification processes to ensure that we can deploy and go to war.”

This was the first time the unit fired in this particular location. The unit continued their live-fire training and finished at the end of the week.

Partnership Results in Success

In a time of crisis, the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory (WPHL), which is part of the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is collaborating with the Wyoming National Guard’s 84th Civil Support Team (CST) to deploy the CST’s mobile laboratory at the WPHL to support increased COVID-19 testing capacity.

The CST and WPHL have been partnering since early March when two CST laboratorians joined the WPHL surge team to perform COVID-19 testing.

The mobile laboratory is equipped with a rapid diagnostic testing platform that will allow for more testing to be performed at WPHL as well as a faster turnaround time for high-priority specimens.

Capt. Sarah Brewer, Nuclear Medical Science Officer, and Capt. Kevin Messamer, Medical Operations Officer, run the mobile laboratory.

“They have been very flexible in applying their high-level skills to this particular problem and also done a lot of work in cultivating and developing the partnership with the state lab and the relationships that we have with the folks there,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Seelye, commander of the 84th CST. “I’m really proud of them for doing that.”

Cari Sloma, WPHL director with WDH, said she believed WPHL staff members had really stepped up to accommodate Wyoming’s COVID-19 testing needs. “Together with partners such as the CST, our entire team has worked hard to bring on testing, expand our capacity, and find ways to support the sample collection needs of healthcare facilities across the state. Looking ahead, we’re really excited about the new testing capabilities the CST crew is helping us bring in.”

To date, Brewer and Messamer have helped WPHL test 788 samples. Last week, the CST team received rapid testing equipment that will increase their total capacity to 320 samples per week.

Seelye explained that the equipment will allow them to provide the highest level of support they can by focusing on accelerating the results of certain high-priority COVID tests.

“I think we are developing and growing an already fantastic relationship with WDH. I believe working with other state agencies in Wyoming has always been a pleasure,” said Seelye. “It’s the Wyoming way. We roll up our sleeves and we find a way to do what we need to do for the people of Wyoming. I’m proud that the CST can be a part of that and provide support to the state.”

Seelye noted the pandemic can remind people of the importance of the state lab and the unique federal-state partnership with the Wyoming National Guard. “Working together greatly benefits Wyoming during this fight to control the spread of COVID-19,” said Seelye.

For more information about COVID-19 from WDH, visit:


To learn more about State of Wyoming COVID-19 resources and response efforts, visit: https://covid19.wyo.gov/.

To view and download the full gallery, visit our Flickr Account here.



Wyoming Air National Guard members deploy in support of COVID Task Force West

Nine members of the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron deployed on April 23 to Travis Air Force Base, California, as part of COVID Task Force West.

The airmen have been tasked to set up a new Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Team for the Air Force’s COVID patient transport operations. Working in a makeshift office space at Travis Air Base, the Wyoming airmen are acting as the operations directors for advanced trained aeromedical evacuation crews.

“Specifically, the Wyoming team is tracking Department of Defense COVID patient movements, incoming and outgoing medical crews and aircraft missions. They are also responsible for tracking flight training and currency as well as maintaining 800 pounds of medical equipment for each aircrew, and the safe on and offload of the Transportation Isolation System (TIS)” said Major Melissa Stevens, executive officer of the 187th AES.

The TIS was initially designed and built for patient transport during the West African Ebola outbreak but was first used operationally on April 10, 2020, to transport U.S. government contractors who tested positive for coronavirus from Afghanistan to Ramstein Air Base. The tracking of these critical medical crews is one of the key functions of the Wyoming guardsmen.

“Having crews that are ready to fly per Air Force regulations is a full-time job”, said Master Sgt. Michael Hensala, health systems specialist of the 187th AES.

“The aeromedical crews flying these COVID patients are also facing a new challenge due to the number of medical personnel on each crew. A typical crew is two flight nurses and three EMTs. These crews consist of a seven-person medical crew with three flight nurses and four EMTs, a three-person critical care air transport team consisting of one doctor, one critical care nurse, one respiratory therapist, and additional infectious disease specialists and Transportation Isolation System (TIS) repair technicians”, added Hensala.

The initial tasking requested that the Wyoming airmen deploy for 120 days with a provision to swap members out at 60 days. COVID Task Force West is one part of the Air Force’s overall COVID responses with multiple hubs across the continental United States, Pacific Air Force and European theaters of operation.

(Photos courtesy of U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Devin Nothstine | Thank you.)

National Guard shooters battle it out at MAC Region VI

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North Dakota’s Alpha team topped the standings in the overall team events at the National Guard’s Marksmanship Advisory Council (MAC) Region VI Combat Marksmanship Training Sustainment Exercise, hosted by the Wyoming National Guard at Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center Aug. 17-19.

The NoDak team, comprised of Senior Master Sgt. Wade Swenson, Senior Airman Gavin “Lil” Rook, Sgt. Tyler Goldade and Sgt. Brendan Dean scored 916 points to top South Dakota’s Alpha team of Staff Sgt. Nicholas Dooley, Maj. Justin Aylward, Sgt. 1st Class Clint Sandness and Sgt. Eric Grage who scored 892 points during the weekend for a second-place finish.

Wyoming finished third in the team standings. The Alpha team of Staff Sgt. Brody Staman, Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Edwards, Master Sgt. Glenn Worley and 1st Sgt. Timothy Smith earned 841 points.

The three-day competition pitted National Guard soldiers and airmen from Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska and Idaho in shoulder-to-shoulder competition with service-issued rifles and pistols in a range of matches that involved a variety of physical challenges and varied distances.

Wyoming’s A team took first in the Covering Fire competition, topping second-place South Dakota A, and third-place North Dakota A.

Worley placed first in the 100-500 Zero Special match followed by Wyoming teammate Smith and South Dakota’s Staff Sgt. Jory Rogers.

North Dakota’s Goldade took home the Combat Rifle Individual Aggregate Champion title with 714 points. He was followed by Worley in second and Idaho’s Staff Sgt. Adam Witte. Goldade also won the Close Quarter Battle, followed by Worley in second and Wyoming’s Spc. Bradley Holloway in third.

The Reflexive Fire crown went to Goldade, followed by Senior Airman Rook and Witte. “Lil” Rook topped the individual Combat Pistol standings over Alaska’s Master Sgt. Neal Waltman and Senior Master Sgt. Brian Rook, also of North Dakota.

Like airman Rook, another new shooter had a great Wyoming weekend—Alaska’s Pfc. Dalton Dorn won the Novice Individual Grand Aggregate championship, Individual Novice Combat Pistol, Novice Reflexive Fire, Novice 100-500 Zero Special and took third in the Excellence in Competition behind airman Rook and Idaho’s Master Sgt. Robert Earley, who placed second. Dorn was also named the top pistol shooter in the Novice EIC followed by Spc. Brandin Wendland of North Dakota and Master Sgt. James Seigneur of Alaska.

Senior Airman Rook earned the Individual Open Grand Aggregate Championship followed by Goldade and Witte. Both Senior Airman Rook and Pfc. Dorn were on top-three teams in the Gen. George Patton Combat Pistol Exercise. Alaska’s Alpha team of Dorn, Master Sgt. James Seigneur, Master Sgt. Neal Waltman and Staff Sgt. Brian Felts took first place with 623 points, followed by North Dakota’s A team with 617 and South Dakota’s Alpha team with a score of 567.

Wyoming has hosted the Region VI competition all but one year since 1997 and did not get any takers when an invitation to host in 2019 was offered by Master Sgt. Morgan Jenkins, Wyoming state marksmanship coordinator and match director. So, it looks like Camp Guernsey will be the place to see some of the Guard’s best hard-charging shooters again next year.

Fort Sill Half Section thrills Cheyenne audiences

As the nation and Wyoming commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, it’s fitting that a group of soldiers and horses celebrating the history of U.S. Army field artillery – a primary mission for the Wyoming Army National Guard – should visit Cheyenne for a number of Cheyenne Frontier Days performances.

Fort Sill’s Field Artillery Half Section, a mounted unit that recreates the World War I era use of horse artillery and light batteries of horse-drawn field guns, rolled into town to thrill audiences at the rodeo, a wild west show, a parade and demonstrations at F.E. Warren Air Force Base’s Fort D.A. Russell Days.

The unit consists of a six-horse team and accompanying mounts and a model 1897 French 75mm field gun. The group, formed in 1963, is called a half section because a full section consisted of two half sections, one for the cannon team, and one to pull a caisson with the ammunition.

During their full routine, the horsemen and gunners ride around the arena, halt to unhitch the cannon, quickly load the ammunition, and fire a round before hitching it back to the limber. Once secured, the two gunners hop into their seats first, then the middle soldier, or wheel man, leaps between them before the team gallops off, drawing huge applause from the assembled crowds.

It’s astonishing that many of the young active-duty soldiers, from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, had never ridden horses before joining the team for one-year stints.

Pfc. Mark Agtarap has been with the half section for four months and was performing as a gunner for just the third time at Sunday’s exhibition at F.E. Warren. Four months ago he was directed to leave his job as an artilleryman, and join the team for a year.

The gunners perform very athletic drills that involve jumping off the bench to unhook the cannon from the litter, prepare and fire the gun, rehook it, and then jump back onto their bench with precise timing.

”The learning process is difficult,” Agtarap said. “I had to learn to ride horses. I always thought it looked easy, but there’s a lot to learn. I think we all enjoy being in the half section.”

Keeping the team trained and motivated for the last 10 years is Section Chief Gerald Stuck. He was a member of the unit from 1992 – 1993, and like the current enlistees, was working in another section at the Oklahoma post that is home to the U.S. Army Field Artillery Center of Excellence, when he got called on to join for a year.

“I have the best job in the Army. I get to go out and ride while everyone else is stuck in an office,” the retired soldier said. “I love meeting with the public and sharing the history of field artillery.”

Stuck said the team performs hundreds of times a year, generally on post for changes of command and other ceremonies, as well as community events and military holidays; usually within a 200-mile radius from the post. He said he and his team were glad to make the long drive to Wyoming to help kickoff the 122nd CFD celebration.

Sgt. Jared Nedbalek said he wants to come back to Cheyenne even if he’s not part of the half section.

“This is wonderful,” the three-month veteran of the half section said. “It’s 114 degrees in Oklahoma. I don’t want to go back home. I’ll take leave to come back up.”

Welcoming the unit to Cheyenne, was Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner, Wyoming’s adjutant general; and the Assistant Adjutant General – Army, Brig. Gen. Brian Nesvik. They hosted a barbecue at the state headquarters for the team when they arrived, and thanked them for preserving the history of the mission our state holds near and dear.

“You all represent the Army so well,” Reiner told the group before presenting each member with his challenge coin. “Wyoming is a real artillery state with so much history, and we appreciate you preserving that history.”

The half section didn’t become a permanent fixture at Fort Sill until 1970, the year after the post’s centennial celebration. The horses are selected with the guidance of old photographs and 75-year-old specifications depicting the ideal artillery mount. Original saddles and hardware were furnished by the Field Artillery Museum at Fort Sill, while the uniforms are replicas of those worn from 1918 to the 1930s.

The French cannon weighs about 6,000 pounds and the horses ride in draft so that they all pull the weight evenly. Stuck said the riderless horses are available to the gunners, “should their gun be destroyed, they can ride off.”

Arkansas Army Guard working on the railroad at Guernsey

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An Arkansas Army National Guard field artillery brigade, augmented by units from other states, is making tracks to Camp Guernsey’s North Training Area for a large-scale training exercise.

Transporting military equipment is often the duty of a specialized transportation unit, or contractors, but for Western Strike participants, it is the main focus of the brigade’s three-week training exercise, according to 1st Lt. Timothy Jones, a field artillery officer assigned to Arkansas’ 142nd Field Artillery Brigade.

He and hundreds of other artillerymen from Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama spent most of a week at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC railyard in Guernsey. There they unloaded various artillery systems, trucks, Humvees, ambulances and other vehicles from five trains, hauling 360 cars, making it the largest such operation at the facility.

Jones said the brigade is training to simulate an emergency deployment, which they haven’t done in more than two decades. A major objective for the brigade is to move its own equipment and deploy it in an unfamiliar location.

“When Operation Desert Storm happened, everyone had to move their equipment and get it shipped overseas. After that, units started falling in on equipment that was already staged in theater,” he explained. “So we’re relearning how to do this, and really at the crawl stage of the crawl, walk, run training cycle.

“Loading, staging and deploying the equipment is the main focus of this exercise. We will certify our fire tables and all that when we get out to the field, but really we can do that at any training facility, this is the important part, to be able to mobilize anywhere, anytime.”

Alabama Army National Guard Spc. Lonnie Crawford, an artilleryman with the 1/117th Field Artillery Brigade, was in the same shoes as many of the red legs working in the mud and rain in the railyard.

“I’ve never done this before,” Crawford said of his current duty and his previous one at Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, where he and his colleagues loaded the train cars bound for Wyoming. “We didn’t train for this, we just kinda learned as we went along.”

“It’s a little nerve-wracking moving your sergeant’s truck for him,” Crawford added, with a grin, “You don’t want it to fall off.”

His crew mate, and a fellow cannon crewmember, Spc. James Westbrook, said he’s feeling good about his unit’s capabilities.

“We’ve moved our stuff in the air, and on the ground and now by train; we are fully capable now to go anywhere,” he said.

Once the vehicles were moved off the train cars, they were staged nearby, and are awaiting a surge of soldiers that will be driving them to the training areas, to do with them, what they are meant to do. The main body arrived June 1.

Col. Joseph Huss, Camp Guernsey commander, visited with some of the Southern visitors in the railyard. They were unconcerned about doing a hard job they hadn’t been trained for, in less than ideal conditions. Actually, most said they were glad to get away from the heat and humidity back home.

Camp Guernsey turns 80 this year (Part one)

After years of training in poor conditions at Pole Mountain, the Wyoming National Guard decided to establish a temporary training camp at Guernsey and in June of 1938, accommodated its first of 80 “summer camps” at what is now an internationally known military training facility.
The Pole Mountain Camp, between Laramie and Cheyenne, was established in 1924 as a temporary National Guard camp, but the War Department would not fund the state for permanent improvements as it was deemed unsuitable for year-round and mobilization training.
Armed with the federal regulations and a desire to train his troops in proper conditions, Wyoming Adjutant General, Col. Rhodolph L. Esmay began lobbying the state government in 1931 to find a suitable location.
Seven years later, and a year prior to construction of any permanent buildings, a deal was worked out to surrender the Pole Mountain property in exchange for about 120 acres of state-owned land at Guernsey.
The site was attractive for its lower and warmer altitude, hilly terrain, abundant water supply, ample building materials, large areas of adjacent state-owned land and its proximity to a major railroad line. The Guard leased the area for the first camp, but already had its sights set on building it into a permanent post.

Esmay reported in April 1938, that an appropriations bill, sponsored by the War Department, was before Congress asking for $500,000 to begin construction of permanent facilities at the camp.
Meanwhile, Guard troops, under the supervision of Maj. C.G. Carroll, Quartermaster Corps and United States Property and Disbursing Officer, started building temporary facilities in preparation for the June encampment, and, as reported in the May 27 Guernsey Gazette, “had reached a point they could see over the hump. The electric light line is completed and the water system is finished.”
Long before operations security became a mantra for the military, troop movements and training schedules were available for all to see in the June 10 Gazette. “Cavalry horses will arrive today. Already some of the troop horses are here and the remainder will be on the picket line tonight. Tomorrow troops will arrive from various parts of the state. The first train will arrive Saturday morning at 8 o’clock; another at 1:50 P.M. another at 3:30 and another at 4:45.”
Some reports claimed there were upwards of 7,000 troops from other states and active units that joined the 620 Wyoming National Guard troops for mock battles during the two-week training period.
Under the command of Wyoming Gov. Leslie A. Miller, and Esmay, 31 soldiers comprised the state staff and state detachment. The staff, commanded by Carroll, included a medical officer, cavalry commanders from Laramie, Sheridan, Douglas, and Cheyenne, and a judge advocate general from Lovell. Five sergeants, four corporals and 13 privates made up the enlisted corps.
The 24th Cavalry Division and 58th Cavalry Brigade rounded out the staff with four officers, led by Col. Burke Sinclair, of Laramie.
Esmay commanded the 115th Cavalry, which was broken up into three squadrons. Troop A, from Lovell, and Troop B, from Sheridan, made up the 1st Squadron. The second included Troop E, from Torrington, and Troop F, from Laramie. The third was Troop I, from Lander. Most of the troops were led by two or three commissioned officers, and a dozen or so noncommissioned officers. The troops were rounded out with an average of 40 privates.
The troops arrived on camp June 11, and bivouacked in the area between the North Platte River and what is now the main cantonment where the Simulation Center and motor pools are today.
“The Cavalry is Camped at Guernsey,” read the headline in that week’s Gazette.
“For the first time in nearly half a century, cavalry troops are again silhouetted against the skyline on the hills near Old Fort Laramie,” the writer reported. “Riding the trails and traversing the terrain where so many years ago the cavalry carved its way while the nearby hills resounded to the warring beat of tom-toms.”
Editor’s note: Thanks to the Guernsey Gazette, Wyoming State Museum, University of Wyoming and Wikipedia for the use of materials used in this story. To retain the prevailing journalistic style, quotes used from the Guernsey Gazette are kept intact, however non-compliant they may be with Associated Press style.