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FOR RELEASE: Friday, Oct 17, 2008

New Yorks Historic 1st Battalion 69th Infantry Changes Command

Lt. Col. John Andonie Takes Charge of “Fighting 69th

FORT PICKETT, VA (10/17/2008)-- Lt. Col. John Andonie, a West Point graduate who earned a Bronze Star in Iraq, assumed command of the New York Army National Guard's historic 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry; known as the "Fighting 69th", in a Change of Command Ceremony today at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Andonie replaces Lt. Col. Charles Crosby as commander of the 157-year old historic Army National Guard unit. The Change-of-Command Ceremony was conducted at Fort Pickett during a battalion weekend training exercise at that Army base. Andonie officially assumed command of the 1-69th on October 2. Crosby, who took command of the 1-69th in February, 2006 after serving as its executive officer in Iraq, has moved onto a new assignment at the Pentagon. In the Change-of-Command Ceremony, the battalion's flag, or colors, are ceremonially transferred from the outgoing to the incoming commander, signifying to the unit's members that the leadership of the unit is in new hands. In this case the 42nd Infantry Division Commander, Brig. Gen. Paul Genereaux, transferred the colors from Crosby, the outgoing commander, to Andonie, the incoming one. The 1-69th Infantry is headquartered in the historic Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City. The battalion's Company A is also based there, while Company B is located in Huntingdon and Freeport, Suffolk County; Company C has elements at Camp Smith in Westchester County and Leeds, Greene County. Company D is in Bayshore, Suffolk County Lt. Col. John Andonie: Lt. Col. Andonie, a resident of Clifton Park, Saratoga County; has been a member of the New York Army National Guard since 2000. In 2004/2005 he deployed to Kuwait as the Deputy G-3 (Operations Officer) for the Troy, Renssealer County-based County-based 42nd Infantry Division and directed day-to-day combat operations as the Officer in Charge of the divisions Tactical Operations Center in Tikrit. He was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service in a combat zone for his service in Iraq. More recently, Lt. Col. Andonie served as the Director of Military Support for the New York National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters, with a mission of coordinating military support for civilian authorities. He will serve in the New York National Guard's training and operations section while also serving as the commander of the 1-69th Infantry. Andonie also served as a Reserve Officers Training Corps instructor at Siena College in Loudonville, Albany County, prior to his deployment to Iraq. Prior to joining the New York Army National Guard, Andonie was the commander of A Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Squadron at Fort Irwin, California. The 11th Armored Cavalry has the mission of playing "opposing force" to United States Army units training for deployment. The best officers are selected for the arduous role of playing the role of enemy forces to U.S.Army units in training. Along with the Bronze Star, Andonie's awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, the Iraq Campaign Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Parachutist Badge. He and his wife Kathleen have two daughters. The 1st Battalion 69th Infantry The 1st Battalion 69th Infantry traces its heritage back to 1851 when the Second Irish Regiment of the New York State Militia was organized. That regiment was combined with others to form the 69th Infantry Regiment, which became a part of the famous Civil War "Irish Brigade." Reportedly the 69th got its nickname as the "Fighting 69th" from Confederate General Robert E. Lee during the Battle of Malvern Hill in 1862 in Virginia, when it forced the "Louisiana Tigers" Brigade to retreat. Ironically, the 69th fought in the same brigade as the Louisiana Tigers during its deployment to Iraq in 2004 and 2005 when the 69th was part of the brigade, now the 256th Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana Army National Guard. In World War I the 69th was redesignated the 165th Infantry and fought as part of the 42nd Infantry Division, the Rainbow Division, the second U.S. division to arrive in France. The author of the poem "Trees", Joyce Kilmer, was a scout in the 69th Infantry and died while serving in France. In World War II the 69th was part of the New York National Guard's 27th Infantry Division and invaded the Islands of Makin and Saipan and fought on Okinawa. In 2004 the battalion was mobilized for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. As part of the 256th Brigade Combat Team the battalion secured "Route Irish", the road from Baghdad International Airport to downtown Baghdad. At one time this was termed the most dangerous road in Iraq and the 1-69th turned that around.

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© NYS DMNA Press Release:New Yorks Historic 1st Battalion 69th Infantry Changes Command
URL: http://dmna.state.ny.us/pressroom/?id=1224251617
Page Last Modified: Oct 17, 2008