Inflatable ego: Legendary Kentucky National Guard mascot turns 18

Story by: Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade Public Affairs

Nat Guard

Nat Guard attends a Louisville Basketball game to celebrate his 18th birthday with friends and family in April. (photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade Public Affairs)

FRANKFORT, Ky.   Wherever he goes Nat Guard gets a mountain of attention due to his physical size and grandiose smile. However, the biggest thing about Nat often goes unnoticed — his love for the Kentucky National Guard!

Nat is the inflatable Kentucky National Guard mascot you see just about everywhere you see an event where the Guard is present.  He just turned 18 years old and he is excited about the possibility of going to boot camp and becoming a ‘real’ Kentucky Guardsman.

Nat was delivered, not by stork but by a C-130, to Kentucky National Guard Marketing Director JC Newton, whom Nat calls Dad.

“When I first met Nat I fell in love with him,” said Newton “He’s always smiling and positive, and never says a bad thing about anybody.”

Nat has been a member of the Kentucky Guard marketing team since birth and has dreamed of the day he could join.

“I have attended every Kentucky High School Sweet 16 basketball tournament since 1992, I’ve been to NASCAR events, Pro baseball games, truck pulls, you name it!” said Nat.  “I’ve got the second best job in the world.”

He quickly pointed out that being a Kentucky Guard Soldier was the best job in the world.  Many of us would agree, what with free college tuition, money while in school, student loan repayment, health benefits, etc … The list goes on and on.

Nat with some of his fans

Nat Guard attends a Louisville Basketball game to celebrate his 18th birthday with friends and family in April. (photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade Public Affairs)

A little known fact about Nat is that he’s quite an athlete. Tubby Smith, former Kentucky basketball coach, tried unsuccessfully to recruit Nat as a ‘big-man center’ for the Wildcats. Nat, although honored, turned the coach down, saying that that being a Wildcat would be awesome, but not as awesome as being a Kentucky Guardsman.

The Kentucky Guard mascot has been approached his whole life by young and old people everywhere to take pictures and sign autographs. He always obliges and does it with a smile.

Nat was dealt a really tough blow this week. On his 18th birthday he was told he could not enlist in the Kentucky National Guard as a full-time Soldier because his current role as mascot was much more important in attracting the best and the brightest to the Guard.

Nat reacted the same way he always does. He smiled and said “Whatever is best for our Kentucky Guard team!”

Knowing Nat, that’s just not a bunch of ‘hot-air’ talking either.

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