Kentucky Guard leadership visits ADT 4 prior to departure for Afghanistan

By Staff Sgt. Paul Evans 

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Kentucky Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini shakes hands with Sgt. Cade Shackelford, a native of Harrodsburg, Ky. while recognizing his hard work at Camp Atterbury, Ind. on January 29, 2012. Shackelford, who recently returned from Iraq as a member of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, played a key role in supporting ADT 4’s Supply section during the mobilization process.

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind.— As the Soldiers, Airmen, and civilian agricultural specialists assigned to Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team 4 gathered in the unit’s temporary headquarters on Sunday, January 29,  two helicopters buzzed overhead. One Airmen joked about breaking news: the people on board were only men, who were rumored to have put their pants on one leg at a time this morning.

Inside the helicopters was an array of top Kentucky National Guard leadership, including Kentucky Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, Command Sgt. Maj. Greg Armstrong, and various other top leaders from around the state.  The leaders came to Camp Atterbury to say their goodbyes to ADT 4 before their departure to Afghanistan to perform the critical task of empowering Afghan farmers with training to become more efficient at using the resources available to them.

An overall buzz of anxious excitement filled the room before the entourage made its way into the building a few minutes later.  After exchanging greetings, it was time to address the crowd, led by Tonini and ADT 4 Commander Col. Tommy Barrier.

“In all sincerity and in all honesty, I can say that I’ve never had an ounce of reservation about this group because I saw you all form up and know what the leadership has done to ensure that you all have the right mix (of talent)… I have nothing but confidence in the work that you’re doing,” said Tonini.

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Col. Tommy Barrier, Commander of Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 speaks at Camp Atterbury, Ind. on January 29, 2012 as Kentucky Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini looks on along with Soldiers, Airmen, and Civilian specialists of ADT 4. The speech was part of a farewell event for the ADT 4 Team before their departure for Afghanistan.

“As you all know, Kentucky was individually picked out in order to do something really different…even though it’s going to be more demanding and more difficult, the reality of it is that you’re all well prepared to do the job,” Tonini added.

Following speeches and a word of prayer, Tonini took time to recognize some of the Soldiers nominated by ADT 4 leadership before everyone went their separate ways. One of the Soldiers, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan Stribling, a native of Louisville, Ky., excitedly described receiving his second coin in his career, a time-honored Army tradition of recognizing hard work.

“It felt good. It was shocking…I don’t feel I did anything spectacular, anything better than anyone else,” said Stribling. “But still, it feels good. I’m not gonna lie,” he added.

As the Soldiers prepared to leave Indiana for southern Afghanistan over the next few days, the visit provided one last opportunity for Kentucky National Guard leadership to show their appreciation to the ADT’s team members. There was a common feeling amongst those in attendance, that this mission demonstrates one more opportunity for Kentuckians to help change the world, even if it is half a world away.

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