By Emily Baker

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – Accomplishing their mission in Kosovo had just as much to do with being good Texas cowboys as it did being professional National Guardsmen, a task forces commander said Friday.

While many commanders challenge their troops to live by the Armys Warrior Ethos to place the mission first, never accept defeat, never quit and never leave a fallen comrade Brig. Gen. Darren G. Owens took the familiar instructions a step further and included Gene Autrys cowboy code.

Owens led about 1,500 National Guardsmen from 19 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico; about 100 Army Reservists; and seven active-duty soldiers in a yearlong deployment to Kosovo. He praised the guardsmen gathered at Hood Stadium on Friday for the units uncasing ceremony for their professionalism, hard work, dependability and for always doing the right thing, many things that summarize Autrys code.

You set the standard by which peace missions will be measured, Owens told the guardsmen after uncasing the units flag, symbolizing the unit has returned from its deployment.

The guardsmen represented at Fridays ceremony provided the command and control element for Multinational Task Force-East, and were joined by forces from Armenia, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Romania to oversee security in Kosovo for the past year.

Among other things, the task force provided medical care for 7,000 people and veterinary care for 1,800 animals; adopted about 50 schools and provided supplies to them, renovated their playgrounds and provided security so children could get to and from school; and conducted more than 50 brigade-level operations.

Perhaps more importantly, the guardsmen provided a lot of space so people in those towns and villages could get their feet on the ground, said Maj. Gen. Charles G. Rodriguez, adjutant general of Texas.

Owens and some of the task forces guardsmen serve in the 36th Infantry Division, which is headquartered at Camp Mabry.

State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, who was the ceremonys keynote speaker, said he was impressed with the guardsmen for leaving a part of the world (they) once knew little about and leaving it better than (they) found it.

Contact Emily Baker at

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