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    Kentucky National Guard Commander Visits Troops in Kosovo

    Kentucky National Guard Commander Visits Troops in Kosovo

    Photo By Chris Erickson | Kentucky National Guard Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini gives his ceremonial coin to Spc....... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class David Dodds 

    116th Public Affairs Detachment

    CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - The commander of the Kentucky National Guard took time recently to personally thank his state's Citizen-Soldiers, aviation and assorted specialists, who are on an important NATO peace-keeping mission here in Kosovo.

    Air Force Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky National Guard adjutant general, recently spent three days in Kosovo, visiting troops from the Bluegrass State and conducting meetings with leaders of Multi-National Task Force-East, part of NATO's Kosovo Forces peace operations.

    The general was an honored guest of MNTF-E's Task Force Aviation, which has two Kentucky aviation units — 2-147th Aviation Battalion and 169th Aviation Battalion — that make up its force structure. In all there are about 80 Kentucky-based National Guard Soldiers in the units.

    Tonini hit the ground running right away Jan. 15, when he took a tour of Camp Bonsteel, the main U.S.-led NATO headquarters in Kosovo. As part of the tour, the general stopped and visited with Kentucky Soldiers at the base's helicopter refueling point.

    From there it was off to dinner and a meeting with Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Bismarck, N.D., commander of MNTF-E; and Lt. Col. Wallace Bonds, Isle Palms, S.C., commander of Task Force Aviation.

    "From the beginning the Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard have demonstrated nothing but extreme professionalism and a can-do spirit that has helped us forge from a unit made up of 14 source states and territories to a Task Force with a common purpose and mission," said Dohrmann. "The Kentucky-based Soldiers have embraced change and have worked effectively alongside aviation units from other states and nations to keep Kosovo safe and secure."

    Col. Aaron T. Barrier, commander of the Kentucky-based 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade; and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Delynn H. Gibson, Kentucky command chief warrant officer, joined Tonini on the visit to Kosovo.

    "The observations that I've had is that everyone is doing a great job," Tonini said. "I get great comments from the commands about the job they're doing, the reliability, the professionalism and as far as the Soldiers themselves are concerned, they seem to be in very high spirits. We are very fortunate in Kentucky in having people that are very supportive of those in uniform. People recognize the value and have a deep appreciation for what our Soldiers do."

    Also, during his stay, Tonini visited the Task Force Aviation tactical operations center and the air-traffic control tower, before a visit to the MNTF-E joint operations center for a command-level presentation on Task Force Aviation's role as part of KFOR.

    "It's been a great experience having Maj. Gen. Tonini here, along with Col. Barrier and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gibson," said Capt. Stephen Martin, 2-147th AV BN. "It's been a really big morale boost. He definitely brings a message from home, from our families, that the state cares about us and supports us."

    The general also took time to root for one of the home teams while he was in Kosovo. He and a group of Kentucky Soldiers watched the University of Kentucky basketball team deliver a victory over Auburn.

    "It's really nice to see TAG [The Adjutant General] and Col. Barrier here," said Sgt. Shaun M. Morris, 2-147th AV BN. "TAG knows us fairly well because we fly him around back home quite a lot. It's great to see him come out and show his support for us."

    Tonini made a special effort to interact with the Soldiers of the 2-147th and the 169th, which provides UH-60 helicopters for medevac purposes throughout Kosovo. He also took time to say thanks to the members of the Virginia-based 777th Aviation Support Battalion, which provides the maintenance support for the Task Force Aviation choppers.

    "I appreciate everything that's being done here," Tonini said. "This particular deployment is one that doesn't get a lot of headlines, but nonetheless, it's important, because stability in this part of the world is certainly critical."

    Another highlight of the visit was a chance to take part and put down some delicious waffles at Task Force Aviation's famous "Waffle House" hangar, where every Sunday morning aviation Soldiers serve up a hearty breakfast for other members of MNTF-E.

    "Not only do they make great food, but they've developed a very interesting and unique atmosphere," Tonini said.

    Tonini became the 52nd adjutant general of Commonwealth of Kentucky Dec. 11, 2007. As adjutant general, he serves as the commanding general of both the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard. As executive director of the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, he guides the preparation of more than 8,400 Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen.

    Soldiers of MNTF-E began their mission in Kosovo on Nov. 14, after about two months of training in Indiana and Germany.



    Date Taken: 01.17.2010
    Date Posted: 01.17.2010 12:48
    Story ID: 44021
    Location: CAMP BONDSTEEL, ZZ 

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