Kentucky National Guard Soldier First in Her Field

Story by Capt. Stephen Martin, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Leah Pedicone

Chief Warrant Officer Leah Pedicone graduated Warrant Officer Candidate School from in February 2013 at Fort Rucker, Ala. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo submitted by CW2 Pedicone)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – In a time where the government and the military are seemingly “drawing down,” one sector is seeing immense growth.

Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. has graduated several of the first Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Warrant Officers in the nation – creating a new position to fill the gap.

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The Kentucky National Guard is fortunate to have graduated one of those officers, Warrant Officer Leah Pedicone. She is also the first female Chemical Warrant Officer in the National Guard Bureau and with her promotion to Chief Warrant Officer, is the senior-ranking female chemical warrant in the entire Army.

“I aspire to accomplish great things, and to be able to affect change for the better,” said Pedicone. “As an officer, I will have the unique opportunity to be able to educate and influence more Soldiers on a larger scale than I have been able to do before.”

A native of Anaheim, Ca., Pedicone joined the active duty Army in 1997 as a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Specialist. After serving out her required term of enlistment, she transferred to the Kentucky National Guard and deployed to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in 2003 with the 1163rd Medical Co. out of Shelbyville, Ky.

Through three deployments and providing relief support to Hurricane Katrina, Pedicone was ready to take this next step in her career.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of such an elite group and is not for the faint of heart,” commented Pedicone. “If you have the drive to leave the Army with a legacy and where you can give back as much as been given to you, then you need to take the next step.”

In August, along with Chief Warrant Officer Tim Smith, Pedicone graduated as a CBRN Warrant Officer in the Kentucky National Guard.

Leah Pedicone

Chief Warrant Officer Leah Pedicone deployed with the 198th Military Police Battalion to Iraq in 2010 as the Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo submitted by CW2 Pedicone).

This was a process that started well before her third deployment, this time with the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in 2010 to participate in the historic drawdown of Operation Iraqi Freedom.Pedicone is currently assigned to the 103rd Chemical Battalion as the CBRN Warrant Officer for the KY CBRN Enhanced Response Force Package or CERFP.

The units mission is to provide immediate response to support ‘incident site search capability’, rescuing trapped casualties, providing decontamination and performing medical triage. They’re primarily a state-side support unit and Pedicone is providing much needed experience in this critical role.

“Leah is a trailblazer in the Army chemical community,” said Lt. Col. Lance Grebe, commander of the 103rd Chemical Battalion. “The spotlight will be on her in this position and she will represent our organization and our mission phenomenally.”

Pedicone says she would be remiss without thanking the leaders that invested in her in the 198th Military Police Battalion, the 149th MEB, the 103rd Chemical Battalion and the Warrant Officer Community for recommending her to be a warrant officer, even with them knowing it would mean losing a senior leader in the unit.

“It took a deployment, an injury, tears, sweat, humbling setbacks and lots of prayers and faith to get me to this point,” said Pedicone. “I’m in awe that I get to have this opportunity.”

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