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    NY National Guard senior leader takes command of 42nd Infantry Division

    NY National Guard senior leader takes command of 42nd Infantry Division

    Photo By Spc. Grace Nechanicky | New York Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York,...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Jean Kratzer 

    New York National Guard

    New York Army National Guard Major General Joseph Biehler, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan War, took command of the Troy, New York-based 42nd Infantry Division during a ceremony held on February 3, 2024, at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, N.Y.

    Biehler, a resident of Webster, N.Y., had been serving as the Commanding General of the 53rd Troop Command since 2021.

    The 42nd Infantry Division is one of eight National Guard division headquarters.

    Biehler replaces Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Thomas Spencer, who is retiring after 37 years of service in the military. Spencer took command of the division in April of 2021.

    "Joe was selected based on his leadership style, experience, and how well he takes care of his people, said Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general of the New York National Guard.

    “You have a critical job leading one of the Army's 18 divisions. Keep focusing on our people within the organization, and you will continue to be successful," Shields told Biehler.

    In his remarks, Biehler told the Soldiers present that it was a tremendous honor to be selected as commander of a division with the history of the 42nd.

    "This is an honorable division with a long history,” Biehler said. “Very few have stood where you are right where you are right now in this formation.
    We are a proud, honorable, and small community,” he added.

    The 42nd Infantry Division, with headquarters in Troy, N.Y., has 20,000 Soldiers assigned to elements in New York, New England, and New Jersey.

    The 42nd Infantry Division was first organized in World War I by National Guard forces across the United States.

    The division's first chief-of-staff, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, said the division would stretch across the United States "like a rainbow." Since World War I, the division has been nicknamed "The Rainbow Division," and its patch is a rainbow.

    The division liberated fought through southern Germany during World War II and liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp. In 2005 the division headquarters and support elements deployed to Iraq. That deployment made it the first National Guard division to see combat since the Korean War.

    During the ceremony, the flag, or colors, of the 42nd Infantry Division was transferred from Spencer to Biehler by Shields. This symbolized the transfer of authority for the men and women of the division.

    The change of command ceremony also featured the colors of the brigades, which fall under the 42nd Infantry Division for training purposes.

    Prior to the ceremony, Biehler was promoted from a one-star brigadier general to the two-star major general rank.

    Following the change of command, Spencer was recognized with the award of the Distinguished Service Medal and formally retired from the Army.

    "Thank you, everyone, for the past 37 years. It's been a great honor and thank you all for your support; I would never have made it all these years without every one of you," Spencer said.

    "I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and humility. We volunteer to serve and take on that obligation freely to serve this country," he said.
    Biehler was commissioned as an infantry officer in May 1987 and has held positions as a rifle platoon leader, mortar platoon leader, support platoon leader, company commander, battalion supply, operations and executive officer, division liaison officer, battalion commander and commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

    He served as the operations officer of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment during its deployment to Iraq in 2004 and commanded the battalion as Task Force Iron during its deployment to Afghanistan in 2012.
    Biehler is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms Staff Service School, Intermediate Level Education, Infantry Pre-Command Course, Army War College, Airborne School, Air Assault School, and Ranger School.

    Biehler was born in Rochester, New York, and graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School in 1983. He earned Bachelor of Science degrees in both Accounting and Management from St. John Fisher College in 1987.

    Biehler's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism, Basic Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
    He and his wife, Sonya, live in Webster, N.Y., with their twin sons, Thomas, and Andrew.

    In civilian life, Biehler is the senior finance manager for Rochester's Harris Corporation.



    Date Taken: 02.03.2024
    Date Posted: 02.05.2024 16:01
    Story ID: 463223
    Location: LATHAM, NY, US

    Web Views: 416
    Downloads: 0