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News | Oct. 5, 2020

Finishing Strong

By Maj. Gen. David Mikolaities

To the Soldiers, Airmen, and Civilian Employees of the NHNG,

As we begin a new training year, I want to thank you for finishing FY20 strong. You met challenge after challenge with professionalism and grace. Your actions throughout the pandemic have helped prevent the spread of the virus, ensuring our governor could reopen the economy and schools safely.

In addition, both the NH Army and Air Guard ended the fiscal year “green” with our formations 100% manned. A huge thanks to our recruiting folks who persisted through the challenges of COVID-19 to fill our formations with the next generation of great Americans who will continue the legacy of selfless service.

In the midst of so much activity, the NHNG was named one of the state’s top employers for 2020 by Business New Hampshire Magazine. This much-coveted honor was not only a first for our organization, but also the first time a government agency cracked the magazine’s annual list of 20 best companies.

We recently bid farewell to Task Force West Sentinels as it deploys to California in support of the Southwest Border Mission. Led by LTC Ken Kruger, 45 soldiers from the Brigade Support Battalion will comprise a headquarters element for nearly 600 Army guardsmen from four different states. For the next year, they will be the “eyes and ears” for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, protecting the human dignity of those fleeing violence and corruption, and deterring threats and criminal organizations from entering the country.

At the same time, we welcome home Operational Support Airlift, Detachment 18 from its year-long deployment in support of ongoing missions in Afghanistan. Not far behind is the return of the 238th Medevac Company. And let us not forget the eight airmen from Pease who continue to perform their duties in Jordan, Al Dhafra and Qatar.

About 160 NHNG soldiers and airmen continue to support the state’s COVID-19 relief efforts now in its eighth month. They continue to support warehouse operations, PPE distribution, both mobile and fixed drive-thru testing sites, and the public health lab.

We bid hail and farewell to BG Shawn O’Brien as he retires from a stellar Army career and relinquishes command of the NHARNG to newly-minted BG John LeBlanc. Last month, we bid farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. Lore Ford and welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. William Ferland as the NHARNG State Command Sergeant Major. We also said good-bye to NHANG Chief Master Sgt. Dave Obertanec whose legacy of taking care of fellow airmen was unrivaled.

At Pease, the 157th Air Refueling Wing continues to be a standard-bearer for the Air Force’s KC-46 refueler. Crews are well ahead of scheduled training. Earlier this summer, a crew accomplished the first official coronet mission of the new KC-46 era.

With reported cases of COVID-19 trending upward in surrounding states, it’s even more critical that we safeguard against complacency and rumors. By now, wearing a mask should be habit when you are on mission.

Stay informed and be especially mindful of social distancing and hygiene protocols. If you are struggling financially or emotionally, contact the FAC’s resource and referral number at 1-877-598-0666, the Airman and Family Readiness Program Coordinator at 603-828-3892, or our Care Coordination Program at 1-888-989-9924.


Major General David Mikolaities
Adjutant General
New Hampshire National Guard