Around Kansas Lee Tafanelli

(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas, I’m Deb Bisel. You know a few months ago when Topeka Cemetery celebrated the, or marked rather, the anniversary of the Battle of the Blue in which many of our state militia men were killed, of course that state militia went on to become the National Guard, the Kansas National Guard. So who was the obvious person to come to the ceremonies at historic Topeka Cemetery and honor those men? Of course it was Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli. Now Tafanelli remarkably has something in common with one of the other men that we will recognize that day, General, later Governor Sam Crawford. And Crawford early in his career, he was just a representative from Garnett in the first state government in Kansas, the first State Legislature. When President Lincoln issued the call for arms to put down the rebellion at the beginning of the Civil War, Crawford resigned from the State Legislature to enlist. And of course went on to a very distinguished military career. Later on as Governor, he actually resigned his second term as governor, to once again enlist and join Custer in the Indian wars. Lee Tafanelli essentially did the same thing. He was actually a Republican member of the House, representing the Ozawkie area. And he was elected I think in ’01. He served from ’01 through ’04 and then he deployed for a year in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He came back to the Legislature and served until 2011 when he was appointed Adjutant General by Governor Brownback. Now, Lee Tafanelli is such an interesting guy. He joined the National Guard in 1980 and was a commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers through Army ROTC at Pittsburg State University. In 1982 while serving as the Commander of the 891st Engineer Battalion he led the Battalion to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom in ’05 and later commanded the 69th Troop Command and was Director of Operations for the Kansas National Guard. He has served at the Department of the Army level as Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Army Manpower and Reserve Affairs in support of Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Enduring Freedom. You know what, in addition to all that, he is just a heck of a nice guy. I know that that evening when we were entertaining folks after our ceremony he visited with people. He was just so kind, so considerate to everyone here, so respectful of the men that he was here to honor. We’re just so proud to call him a Kansan. We’ll be right back.