By Staff Sgt. Andy Poquette
The Wisconsin Army National Guard's highly regarded 426th Regiment Regional Training Institute, based at the
Wisconsin Military Academy at , has an old hand for its new commander. Fort McCoy
Col. Kenneth A. Koon of Waunakee, who commanded the 426th Regiment for 30 months, passed the colors to Col. Richard Borkowski,
Lake Geneva, during a change of command ceremony held Sept. 11.
This isn't the first time that Borkowski has followed in Koon's footsteps - five years earlier, to the day, Koon relinquished command of the 1st Field Artillery Battalion, 426th Regiment to Borkowski in a similar ceremony. Saturday's ceremony, like five years ago, was bittersweet for both the outgoing and incoming commander. Speaking to the Soldiers of the 426th, Koon said he will truly miss the camaraderie he has shared with his Soldiers.
"You have much to be proud of - I know you will continue to serve well supporting Col. Borkowski as you did for me and honor the heritage and lineage from which the regiment came," Koon said. "Thank you for the best years of my military career."
Under Koon's leadership, the regiment earned many accolades and logged thousands of hours of training: The 1st Field Artillery Battalion of the 426th Regiment became the country's first National Guard field artillery battalion to earn the title of Institute of Excellence; Headquarters Company ,127th Infantry assembled a team of certified instructors and established a satellite school in Kosovo to train more than 100 soldiers in the infantry career field - a first-time event; and the 426th Regional Training Command completed 357,929 training man-days - including 250 by Marines, 1,050 by Sailors, 4,200 by Airmen, 3,350 by active component Soldiers including ROTC, 79,232 by the Army Reserve, and 16,895 by civilians.
Borkowski plans to complete an initiative begun under Koon's watch - launching a third training battalion at the 426th, dedicated to state priority training missions. This will allow the second battalion greater opportunity to focus on military occupational specialty courses.
Borkowski said he intends to continue the regiment's success. As a history teacher in his civilian career, Borkowski brings unique qualifications to the command of the training institute.
"I don't think instructors realize the impact they have on Soldiers," Borkowski said. "Education is the key component of maintaining our operational tempo in this era of uncertainty. The benefit these instructors can provide is immeasurable. Soldiers will remember the lessons they learn here for the rest of their careers."