MEB welcomes Gardner into command

By Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Wood, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs

Col. Joseph Gardner passes the guidon of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade to Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Owens to complete the change of command ceremony in Richmond, Ky., June 23, 2018. Gardner assumed command from Col. Alexander Stewart who led the brigade since 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Wood)

RICHMOND, Ky. — The 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), headquartered in Richmond, said farewell to Col. Alexander Stewart II and welcomed Col. Joseph H. Gardner II as the new brigade commander during a change of command ceremony June 23, 2018 at the Eastern Kentucky University Roy Kidd Stadium.

More than 125 Soldiers and 80 distinguished visitors were in attendance as Gardner assumed command from Stewart. Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell, assistant adjutant general oversaw the ceremony and led the time honored and symbolic change of leadership through the transfer of the 149th MEB guidon from outgoing to incoming commander.

“The MEB is the Leatherman of the Army,” said Gardner during his speech. “The 149th MEB is and will remain the best MEB in the Army inventory.”

Gardner was commissioned into the Engineer Corps upon graduation from Morehead State University in 1995. He has served in many staff and leadership positions throughout the Kentucky National Guard. Most recently, he was deployed to the Middle East as the commander of the 149th Military Engagement Team in 2016 and currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations.

At the ceremony, he shared his vision of what the brigade’s readiness and training will look like under his direction. He also promised to serve his Kentucky National Guard leadership as well as the soldiers under him to the best of his ability.

“My promise to the Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Campbell, the Soldiers and families of the 149th MEB is that this brigade will remain ready to win the nation’s wars and provide support to the commonwealth in time of need,” said Gardner. “I will promote and safeguard the morale, the physical well-being, and the general welfare of the officers and enlisted persons under my charge.”

Stewart has served 33 years in the Kentucky National Guard and will retire at the end of June. He carried out his brigade command while also working as a manager with International Paper, Inc. in Maysville, Kentucky.

“I am blessed to be part of Kentucky’s military history and command such a great organization,” said Stewart during his final and unscripted speech to the 149th MEB. “Since 1831, there have only been a small number of people who have had the opportunity to lead this brigade, being one of them with Brig. Gen. Campbell and now my dear friend, Joe Gardner, is a great send off for me.”

In his final remarks to the 149th MEB and his Guard family, Stewart praised the Soldiers who he grew to know as family and also gave each soldier some advice about dedication and hard work.

“When your unit wants you to do something, say yes to it. If you will do that in your career, there is nothing that can hold you back,” said Stewart. “The Kentucky Army National Guard will springboard your military or… civilian career. You can be whatever you want to be if you’re not afraid to do things that may be unpleasant.”

When asked what the next chapter of his life will bring, Stewart said he was not sure but was excited to find out.

“This book still has a number of blank pages left in it,” said Stewart with a laugh. “I just haven’t written on them yet!”