By Capt. Robert TaylorJune 3, 2019
FORT IRWIN, Calif.- If Kansas Army National Guard Sgt. Christopher Rectenwald is at work, he's likely saving someone's life or standing by ready to do so.
As a civilian, he works as a paramedic for the Jefferson County Ambulance Service, located about an hour outside of Kansas City. As a member of the Kansas Army National Guard he serves as a 68W combat medic in the 891st Engineer Battalion.
Rectenwald hasn't always been a medic or served in the National Guard. He spent seven years in the Marines working as a 6531 aircraft ordnance technician before deciding he wanted to serve locally and get into emergency medical care.
"I missed the military," Rectenwald said. "But I didn't want to go back to being active duty. I wanted to stay home and serve in my local community."
He enlisted into the Kansas Army National Guard four years ago and earned his emergency medical technician certification as a combat medic. He then used his GI Bill to become a paramedic and is planning to become a registered nurse and then a nurse practitioner.
Rectenwald said he missed the comradery he found in the Marines and his dad was a member of the National Guard, which got him thinking about joining himself. He is assigned as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the battalion's medical section and is currently supporting the 242nd Engineer Company at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.
"It's been a good learning experience," he said. "This mission's a lot bigger than our usual annual training."
The 242nd Engineer Company is one of two 891st Engineer Battalion companies training at the National Training Center May 24 - June 20 in support of the Army National Guard's 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team.
The 242nd Engineer Company, based in Coffeyville, and the 772nd Engineer Mobility Augmentation Company, based in Pittsburgh, are at the NTC to provide engineer support to the 116th CBCT, one of five armored brigade combat teams in the National Guard.
The brigade, headquartered in Boise, is comprised of more than 3,000 Soldiers, including roughly 1,800 Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers and 1,200 Soldiers serving in battalions from Montana, Nevada and Oregon Army National Guard. During the rotation, the brigade is supplemented by units from nine additional Army National Guard states and three U.S. Army Reserve units for a total force of more than 4,000 Soldiers.
Rectenwald has served in the 891st Engineer Battalion since fall 2018 and said he is learning a lot about engineering throughout the rotation. As a combat medic, he said most of the Soldiers in his unit are younger than the patients he typically sees as a paramedic and that he sees more trauma injuries than he does in Jefferson County.