NEW YORK — Lt. Col. Adam Bojarski, a veteran of the war in Iraq who has served twice in support of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, took command of New York City’s historic “Fighting 69th” Infantry Regiment on Sunday, Oct. 22.
Bojarski took command of the battalion from Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who led the unit since 2021 and on its most recent overseas deployment.
“Commanding a rifle battalion in a world with conflicts seeming to pop up every day is extremely humbling,” Bojarski said.
The 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment has a distinguished history, traced back to 1849 when Irish immigrants organized a militia regiment. The unit joined the New York State Militia and was numbered the 69th Regiment in 1851 – the same year its Soldiers began leading the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
69th Soldiers fought in the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are the subject of the Irish folk song, “The Fighting 69th,” and a 1940 war movie of the same name.
Members of the battalion were among the first to respond to Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, and were part of the response to Superstorm Sandy and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This unit is the most storied battalion in the National Guard, if not the whole Army,” Bojarski said. “I look forward to continuing our celebrated lineage and traditions, while working closely with each and every one of its Soldiers as we write the next chapter in the 69th’s history.”
Today, the 69th is comprised of more than 700 Soldiers assigned to six companies stationed in Manhattan, Farmingdale, and Cortland Manor.
The battalion returned this summer from a nearly year-long deployment to the Horn of Africa, during which its size was increased to nine companies and more than 1,100 Soldiers. Tabankin led the unit then, as it executed security missions across Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya.
“Your dedicated leadership has allowed the 69th to write additional pages into its storied history,” said Col. Bradley Frank, commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 69th’s higher headquarters.
Frank presided over the traditional change-of-command ceremony at the Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan. It was the last change-of-command in the historic building before $120 million in planned renovations get under way next summer.
During the ceremony, the battalion’s flag, or colors, was passed from the unit’s senior enlisted Soldier to Tabankin, signifying his last act as commander. Tabankin passed them to Frank, who handed the colors to Bojarski, instilling in him the responsibility to lead.
Bojarski began his career at the United States Military Academy and commissioned as an infantry officer in the active Army before joining the New York National Guard.
He served as a platoon leader, company executive officer, battalion staff officer, and infantry company commander. He also deployed to Iraq for 15 months with the 10th Mountain Division.
Bojarski served in the New York Army National Guard’s 10th Mountain Division Main Command Post-Operational Detachment as a liaison officer, was a company commander in its 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, and with its 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment as an operations officer. He deployed twice with the Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine (JMTG-U) – a National Guard-executed mission to train the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
On his first JMTG-U deployment in 2017, Bojarski was responsible for coordinating the work of British, Canadian, Polish, Lithuanian, and American personnel training Ukrainian soldiers at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv, Ukraine. On his second JMTG-U deployment in 2022, Bojarski served in Germany, coordinating training for Ukrainian land and airborne forces in Europe.
“Your experiences on active duty, coupled with your years in the New York Army National Guard, will provide you an excellent perspective on battalion command,” Frank told Bojarski. “And your recent deployments in support of JMTG-U have given you insight into modern large-scale combat – insight that you can now share with your junior leaders across the formation.”
Tabankin, whose next assignment is at the New York National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, closed out his time with the battalion by offering gratitude for its Soldiers and their sacrifice, and noted how the unit’s diversity has remained a part of its persona for more than 170 years.
“I appreciate so greatly how this historic battalion remains one formed by immigrants, one that remains a battalion of immigrants, one that represents the immigrant spirit that makes great New Yorkers, one that represents the melting pot that makes great Americans, and that this historic battalion will continue to perform in a manner commensurate with its storied and fought for history,” Tabankin said.