Miss. Guard unit gets new commander as it prepares for major training exercise

Miss. Guard unit gets new commander as it prepares for major training exercise

CAMP SHELBY, MS (WDAM) - A Mississippi National Guard unit that is preparing for a major training exercise in California later this year has a new commander.

The 150th Engineer Battalion (EB) is now led by Hattiesburg native Major Paul Lyon.

He takes over for Lt. Col. Kendrick Cager, who led the unit for two years.

A Change of Command ceremony took place Sunday morning.

The 150th is one of six battalions within the National Guard's 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team.

That brigade is headed to the National Training Center in June for several weeks of intensive training.

"It's a little bit of a situation where it's bitter-sweet," said Cager. "I spent a lot of time with the battalion, really about two years, (and I'm) going into a new assignment with the U.S. Army War College."

"What an honor it is to take over a unit with such a storied past," said Lyon. "We have lineage all the way back to World War Two. The 150th was one of the first units to cross the Rhine under combat fire, all the way to 2005, when they were deployed to Iraq."

During the change of command ceremony, the battalion, which had been known as the 155th Special Troops Battalion (STB), conducted a "casing of the colors," and was re-designated as the 150th Engineer Battalion.

Meanwhile, Mississippi's adjutant general, who attended the change of command ceremony, said 2017 will be a busy year for the Mississippi National Guard.

Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles said some units are currently taking part in gunnery exercises at Camp Shelby, in preparation for the exercise at the National Training Center.

He said some special forces units are preparing for missions overseas and an aviation battalion will soon deploy to Kosovo.

He also said about 2,500 Air Guardsmen are now flying missions to and from Afghanistan.

"We've got a refueling wing in Meridian that continues to support active duty with refueling, so we are doing active-duty participation every day," said Boyles.

Boyles said the training in California, including moving equipment to and from the site, will take about eight weeks.