Joint Promotion Ceremony Special for Washington Guard Family

The Derda family following a joint promotion ceremony

The Derda family following a joint promotion ceremony on Sept. 3, 2020, at Camp Murray, Washington. COL Kristin Derda and LTC Krystian Derda were able to celebrate their promotions on the
same day. (Photo by Peter Chang)

CAMP MURRAY, Washington – Life is full of milestones – graduating from college, getting married, the birth of a child, a promotion at work. Having the chance to celebrate these milestones with your family is so important.

For the Derda family, the latest milestone was special for everyone as Colonel (COL) Kristin Derda and Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Krystian Derda, Soldiers in the Army National Guard, were promoted during a ceremony on Sept. 3 at Camp Murray. Both serve in the Washington National Guard.

“You will remember this day, you will tell your Soldiers, I was there the day the Derda family was promoted,” said Brigadier General (BG) Dan Dent, commanding general of the Washington Army National Guard. “These two officers have a deep commitment to our Guard, to our Soldiers, to their family and to each other.”

The Derdas have laid a solid foundation in the U.S. Army and the Washington Army National Guard with nearly 45 years of combined service, including 29 years in the Washington National Guard.

Enlisting in 1992 as an automated logistics specialist, COL Kristin Derda left the active duty Army in 1999 and joined the Washington Army National Guard as an ordnance officer through the Washington National Guard Officer Candidate School. In more than 20 years since commissioning, she has come up through the organization, spending time in nearly every major subordinate command, deployed to Iraq in 2004, and held multiple leadership positions at the Company, Battalion, Brigade, and State levels. She has managed the State’s Information Operations Group and currently commands the State’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

“Who would have thought that I would be standing here today?” said COL Kristin Derda. “Twenty-eight years ago, when I came home with a recruiter to enlist, my parents were in shock.”

With a tradition of service in his family, LTC Krystian Derda took a different path to the Washington Army National Guard, receiving his commission into the active Army in 2004 from the United States Military Academy at West Point. His first duty station would end up being his only stop. He was assigned as a platoon leader with 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington.

It was during that time the couple met, began a courtship, got married, and started a family – all before LTC Krystian Derda deployed to Iraq in 2006. After spending eight years on active duty, and multiple deployments to Iraq, he transitioned to the Washington Army National Guard.

“Before coming to the Guard, I remember talking with COL Allen. At the time, I was thinking, is this a prerequisite to joining?” said LTC Krystian Derda. “I appreciate the leadership taking a chance on me and bringing me in.”

He was quickly educated on the Army National Guard’s State mission, as the lead planner for Operation Evergreen Ember, a statewide wildfire training exercise that re-established the Guard as a force that could support during the busy wildfire season. Since then, he has held multiple positions in the 96th Troop Command, 81st Brigade Combat Team, 205th Regional Training Institute and now serves as the State’s deputy personnel officer.

For the couple, though, the once-in-a-lifetime ceremony means more knowing they can do it together.

“All these years, I have never been able to synchronize our promotion, so this is a special day for us,” said LTC Krystian Derda.

See how much you can grow with the Army National Guard. With positions in more than 130 career fields, so you can serve your community in a way that’s right for you. Opportunities include supply and logistics, admin and relations, transport, and more. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more. 

From an original article by Joseph Siemandel, Washington National Guard, which appeared in the news section of in September 2020.

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Driver Training Improves Readiness for Infantry Battalion

Army National Guard Driver Training
SPC Jesse Fugate, a mechanic assigned to India Company, 429th Brigade Sustainment Battalion, teaches Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, about preventive maintenance checks and services on a light utility truck at Harold L. Disney Training Center, Artemus, Kentucky, on July 30, 2020.
(Photo by SGT Alan Royalty.)

ARTEMUS, Kentucky – Army National Guard Soldiers from India Company, 429th Brigade Sustainment Battalion, the logistical support company for 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry, hosted driver training at Harold L. Disney Training Center July 28-30.

Selected members from all Kentucky National Guard companies within the battalion were invited during their annual training as the 1-149th continues to cross-train Soldier skills amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The driver training comprises three phases. First, Soldiers must complete technical training and pass a written exam. Next, and before they get behind the wheel, they learn to conduct preventive maintenance checks and services on their vehicles. In the last phase, students apply what they learned. Participants practice day- and night-time driving to simulate a variety of tactical tasks and prepare them for combat or other training missions.

Sergeant (SGT) Jared Hinkle, master driver instructor with India Company, oversaw the training. SGT Hinkle has conducted driver training for more than a year and comes to the Kentucky Guard with a first-responder background. As a civilian, SGT Hinkle is a firefighter and teaches recruits how to drive fire engines.

“These are not like your normal civilian vehicles,” SGT Hinkle says of the various military vehicles used during training. “They are a lot stronger and a lot heavier. Most of these new Soldiers have not driven anything heavier than their own personal car or truck.”

The heavy vehicles included the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV), High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, or Humvee), Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) with Load Handling System (LHS), and HEMTT Fueler truck.

Private First Class (PFC) Cheyenne Ramirez, also an instructor with India Company, is confident in the instructors and the training provided. Navigating behind the wheel of a large truck can feel intimidating to young Soldiers, so this training builds the confidence to accomplish their mission.

“A lot of our 88M Soldiers (truck drivers) do this on the civilian side, so we came to this with a lot of combined civilian and military experience,” says PFC Ramirez.

India Company provides logistical support to 1-149th, which tactically operates within the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Virginia Army National Guard. The company measures its effectiveness in the readiness and performance of the Units it supports.

The platoon leader for India Company, Second Lieutenant (2LT) Rachel Hardin, says Soldiers cross-trained on multiple jobs become more versatile and can contribute to a wider range of tasks involved in mission readiness.

“Soldiers confident in driving and not afraid to volunteer to move or service a vehicle helps everyone out,” says 2LT Hardin. “There are a lot of Soldiers out there leaning on us for support in a variety of ways. Providing drivers’ training is a way we know we are adding value to their training and contributing to future missions, indirectly, and at all echelons.”

The Army National Guard gives you the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in your home State, so your family is always close by. With positions in more than 130 career fields, you can find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more.

From an original article by SGT Alan Royalty, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, which appeared in the news section of in August 2020.

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All Roads Lead to Career Success with Guard Service

Austin Vogt
SGT Austin Vogt at the 1-279, 45th brigade infantry combat team NCO induction ceremony with NATO allies. The youngest inductee gets to cut the cake.

Sometimes you find yourself in a position that turns out to be completely different than where you thought you would be – it even happens in the Army National Guard.

Sergeant (SGT) Austin Vogt of the Oklahoma Army National Guard has navigated changes in direction throughout his service journey, but is focused on his destination – a successful civilian career.

For the last six years, he has served as a Food Service Specialist, primarily responsible for the preparation and service of food in field or garrison food service operations. Food service specialists must complete 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and eight weeks of Advanced Individual Training with on-the-job instructions. Part of this time is spent in the classroom, and part takes place in the field, including practice in food preparation.

SGT Vogt joined the Army National Guard because he admired military service. Both of his grandfathers served in the Army. His paternal grandfather served during war time in Korea and Vietnam. His maternal grandfather had active duty as well as Army National Guard service – ironically as a cook. He says he also was impressed by the benefits offered by the Guard, especially education benefits.

When he first joined the Army National Guard, he was offered several different positions that didn’t really appeal to his interests – Infantry, truck driver – and eventually was offered a job as a cook.

“It seemed like an easy job,” SGT Vogt says. “I like to cook, and I like to eat.”

But his MOS wasn’t exactly what he expected.

“It sounded good at the time, until I got there,” SGT Vogt says. “It was more work and less sleep than I thought.”

Due to under-staffing, there were days when he found himself working from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m., including cleanup, running all shifts – except lunch, which was in the field. There were nights when he slept for just 45 minutes.

Eventually, he realized that being a cook probably wasn’t the best position for him. He was looking toward the future and wanted to set himself up for a successful civilian career with higher pay.

Instead of the kitchen, he set his sights on an IT career. “I thought if I had IT training, I could work my way up and eventually work as a contractor,” SGT Vogt says. Now he is about to transition to a career in communications as a Signal Support Systems Specialist.

Through the Army Relearning Certification Class, he is earning coins that act as a credit. “Courses are very expensive,” SGT Vogt explains. “These classes will help me when going after jobs and will open more doors for me.” He also plans to take advantage of the GI Bill for college courses.

SGT Vogt has been working toward his new goal in his civilian life as well. After spending the last two years in environmental and construction work, he recently took a job in life insurance sales.

“My goal right now is to absorb as much information as I can, to learn about the field and get hands-on experience.”

He sees his civilian career in sales as a segue.

“In the job market, you have to be able to sell yourself. I am learning a whole new vocabulary – and words to avoid,” SGT Vogt says. “I definitely think I am heading in the right direction.”

With career opportunities in more than 130 positions, the Army National Guard can help you find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more. 

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