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Friday, May 6, 2016

Guard now under new leadership

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Missouri National Guard leaders participating in change of command ceremonies for the 276th Engineer Company are shown above. From left, are: Lt. Col. William Blalock, representing the 35th Engineering Brigade, from Fort Leonard Wood; Captain Eric Spencer, outgoing commander of the 276th, and Captain Lawrence Adrian, incoming commander. [Photo by Sgt. David Quick]
Capt. Lawrence Adrian officially took command of the 276th Vertical Engineer Company of the Missouri National Guard in ceremonies held at the Pierce City Armory. The 276th, formerly based at the Monett Armory before the last Guard reorganization, has been led for the past two years by Captain Eric Spencer.

Lt. Col William Blalock. overseeing operations for the 203rd Engineering Battalion, conducted the change of command ceremony.

Capt. Adrian comes to the local command, his first, from Fort Leonard Wood. He explained that with the battalion headquarters of the 203rd being deployed to Afghanistan, command for the 276th fell under the 35th Engineer Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood.

Originally from Osceola, Adrian has been in the Guard for 24 years and has been with engineering companies for most of his career. Adrian decided when he became an officer to stay in construction and work with engineers.

"I have a lot of old friends in the 276th," Adrian said. "I'm really pleased to get this command."

Adrian praised the work of his predecessor in training \local soldiers in their new mission as a vertical engineering company. The new skills will be put to use in the company's annual training mission from March to May in Guatemala. The company will break into five rotations of 20 soldiers each going for two-week stints over a 10-week period.

This will be the local soldiers' second mission to Guatemala, on top of an earlier summer training trip to the Dominican Republic. Adrain said the National Guard has a partnership with several Latin American countries to build schools, clinics and roads to support the public.

"These are great missions," Adrian said. "Soldiers get to interact with the locals and get to improve their lives. I've been to Panama, Guatemala and Honduras. They've been great experiences every time. It's a lot of trouble getting guys there, dealing with passports and travel. In the end it's a great mission, well worthwhile."

Local soldiers will be in Guatemala to specifically build a school. Following the training mission Adrian said there will be a number of construction projects planned on buildings and facilities at Camp Clark in Neosho. Soldiers will engage in their normal combat training throughout the year.

Currently the 276th has around 115 soldiers. The company is authorized to have 162. Fewer of the soldiers are from the immediate Monett-Pierce City area than in the past.

"Because of changes in the Guard structure in the last several years," Adrian said, "we've got more diversified personnel. We have some from Kansas City, Harrisonville and St. Louis. Several travel, including myself, from 80 to 90 miles away. The greatest percentage are within 50 miles of Pierce City."

Soldiers in the 276th continue to learn construction skills to erect buildings, as well as plumbers, electricians, mechanics, carpenters and masons.

"We build stuff," Adrian said. "Anyone in the construction field can tell you these are just good down-to-earth people, good natured, hardworking, great to get along with. That's why I like being here."

To be a good leader of such a group, Adrian said he has to bring experience, particularly in guidance and planning.

"My job is having an overall view of where we need to go and going in the right direction. The guys in the Armory are the ones who get it all done," Adrian said.

The possibility of the company being called into active duty remains a concern for local soldiers. Adrian said he has looked at Guard activity plans into 2011 and the 276th is not scheduled on any list to deploy.

Adrian's management duties will bring him to Pierce City for every drill and a few times during the month. Adrian has a civilian job in addition to his Guard duties and expected the full-time staff at the Armory would carry on the bulk of the duties.

"The Pierce City facility is fantastic, one of the nicest armories in the state, hands down," Adrian said.

According to Adrian, one of the advantages in coming to a "hometown Guard" community is the deep roots the Guard has with the town. He appreciates former Guard members stopping by and getting to know community leaders.

"Local people may not make up 80 percent of the company anymore, but it feels like they are," Adrian said. "I know the community supports this unit. We have a bond. That's important."

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