Storytelling 101: PAO trains Soldiers to tell the Kentucky story

More than 70 UPAHRs graduate from weekend course

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By: Spc. Will Bolton, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd MPAD readiness non-commission officer and editor of the Bluegrass Guard magazine, teaches interview techniques to Kentucky Guard Unit Public Affairs Historian Representatives at the annual UPAHR conference on Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., March 25-27.

GREENVILLE, Ky. – Like so many of their brothers and sisters in arms who come from all walks of life, attendees of the 2011 Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative conference, held March 25-27 at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center in Greenville, Ky., came from several of the Kentucky National Guard’s diverse units.

Aviators, artillerymen, signal Soldiers, infantrymen and even members of the Army Band spent the weekend learning how to make their fellow Soldiers famous as appointed UPAHRs.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Sgt. Mary D. Henning, a military police officer stationed with the 223rd Military Police Company.  “But it turned out to be pretty educational and helpful for someone who is going to attempt to put together a unit history and help keep everything up to date.”

The purpose of the annual UPAHR conference was to train the Soldiers as subject matter experts in the world of public affairs for their units, and to provide guidelines on how to properly document their unit history.

More than 70 UPAHRs attended the conference which included a series of formal class instruction on conducting interviews, taking photographs, writing stories and submitting the information back to headquarters for dissemination.

“I thought it was excellent,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen J Baker, UPAHR for the 202nd Army Band. On drill weekends, Baker is charged with telling the story of Kentucky’s band, in addition to section leader for the saxophones.

Kentucky National Guardsmen exit a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter after taking aerial photos of Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center at the annual Unit Public Affairs Historian Representatives conference in Greenville, Ky., March 25-27.

“I especially liked the writing course.  There’s a specific format that they wanted submitted; without that training, I would have never known,” said Baker.

Baker and his team also learned an important lesson as Army journalists during the practical exercise that concluded the UPAHRs training. Deadlines.

“We had an issue with getting with the point of contact,” Baker said of his assigned story. “That was challenging because we didn’t get the answer by phone that we were expecting until late in the day so we were under a deadline so it made it difficult for us.”

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