KY National Guard 149th Infantry sent off to Kosovo

The troops make up task force 'Mountain Warriors' and will provide security operations throughout the region.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – 200 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, KY National Guard, said goodbye Thursday to friends and family as they deploy to Kosovo for a year.

Kosovo is a landlocked country, bordered by Serbia to the North and East, North Macedonia to the South, Albania to the West and Montenegro to the Northwest.

It’s the smallest country in the Balkans.

The troops make up task force ‘Mountain Warriors’ and will provide security operations throughout the region.

The send off at Lex City Church Thursday was packed with the friends and families of these soldiers, hearing from those in command about the journey ahead.

For Lieutenant Caleb Flege of Northern Kentucky, it’s his first deployment. It will also be the longest time he’s spent away from his family and his twin brother who is also in the military.

“Super excited, I know I am going with great people with the leadership. I got to meet them all and I know we’re going to be in good hands and it’s going to be a great experience” said Lt. Flege.

“I believe they exemplify what America stands for, they’re intelligent, they’re morally sound and they take this very seriously and so I feel proud to send them out to represent our Country and the state of Kentucky” added Andrew Flege.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky National Guard also said farewell to the members of the 438th Military Police Company, out of Murray Kentucky who also deployed to Kosovo. They are deployed to provide military police liaison officer support for operation ‘Joint Guardian’.


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Approximately 200 Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers gathered for a departure ceremony at Lexcity Church in Lexington, Ky., on January 6th, 2022.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Brigade were joined by friends and family for the ceremony to wish them well before deploying to
Kosovo in support of Operation Joint Guardian.

Led by Lt. Col. Jason Mendez and Command Sgt. Major Will Long, Units from Barbourville (Headquarters & Headquarters Co.), Middlesboro (Delta Co.) and Ravenna (Charlie Co.) will make up Task Force Mountain Warrior to provide security operations throughout the region.

“The past several years as we’ve been preparing for deployment, we’ve had a number of state missions that the Battalion has taken part in,” said Mendez, the commander of the 1st Battalion. “Our Soldiers and families have had to demonstrate resilience and a level of sacrifice that further speaks to their commitment to both our state and federal missions. For that, we are all truly grateful.”

Col. Timothy Starke, the 75th Troop Command’s brigade commander also spoke about the value the Kentucky National Guard brings to this overseas mission.

“Stability in Europe is incredibly important for our national interests and those of our allies,” said Starke. “I, personally, am very proud, though not
at all surprised, that the mission is being entrusted to the Kentucky National Guard’s only infantry battalion.”

The unit’s combat history goes back to the Mexican War; starting with the Battle of Buena Vista. Since then, the unit fought on both sides of the
Civil War, World War I, and World War II to include New Guinea, Leyte, and Luzon.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment has deployed three times in support of the War on Terror – Operation Noble Eagle
in 2001, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2007, and Operation New Dawn 2011-2012.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky National Guard also said farewell to members of the 438th Military Police Company, out of Murray, Ky., who will deploy to Kosovo as well to provide Military Police Liaison Officer support for Operation Joint Guardian.

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