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2014-10-30

Get to know MG (Ret) Ken Guest - our Veterans Day speaker

By Susan Junker Special to The Courier

Ken Guest declared, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!" -- repeating and definitely meaning this oft' heard phrase. He couldn't get to Bandera County until he completed 35 years of service in the United States Army. Retired Major General Robert "Ken" Guest will be sharing a few thoughts about our community and its role in preserving freedom for the past 191 years as the Veterans Day program guest speaker on Saturday, Nov. 8.
When asked about that "speech", he said that when he spoke to "troops-in-formation, the maximum was three minutes," so the Bandera Honors Veterans audience is "limited to seven minutes." This is one of many examples of his Texas fit. It is this kind of caring leadership, willingness to assist and focus on the future that led the Bandera American Legion to invite him to join the celebration.
Gen. Guest graduated North Georgia College in 1963 with a BS in Business Administration, on the honors list, selected to Scabbard and Blade, and designated a Distinguished Military Student. What a year to graduate and enter the Army. 1963 was a "wild" year in American history. That was the first year of significant escalation of American military personnel in Vietnam. The Beatles craze was in its infancy. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Governor George Wallace were in the midst of controversy. The Ed Sullivan Show was in the 15th year of a 23-year run. Lamborghini opened in Italy as the Football Hall of Fame opened in Ohio. It wasn't all bad...
"Lieutenant" Ken Guest went from Georgia to Infantry and Quartermaster training, to Vietnam, serving two tours there. First, he was a fuel operations officer, then an advisor in the Mekong Delta and a tour in Laos as the Chief of Procurement for the US mission.
His exceptional technical, and more importantly, his leadership skills and focus on soldiers and their families meant fast promotions and handpicked assignments that less than 5 percent of his peers earned. Some of his assignments may be very familiar; the Big Red One (Fort Riley, KS), 101st Airborne (Fort Campbell, KY), Germany, Southwest Asia supporting 18th Airborne Corps during Operation Desert Shield and Storm. Almost a third of his career was in "Command" positions; the best place for a soldier's soldier with a penchant for "common sense and uncommon leadership".
When you hear him and hopefully, meet him, on Nov. 8 during the Bandera Honors Veterans events, look closely at his uniform. You'll find not just one medal for the Legion of Merit, or the Bronze Star, or the Meritorious Service Medal, or the Joint Service Commendation Medal, but multiples of each. And those multiple parachutist and rigger badges, foreign and domestic, are unique and impressive as well; a reflection of the quality and impact on soldiers throughout his career.
We are fortunate to not only have him as our honored participant and speaker, but to have him as a valued veteran in the Bandera County community. General Ken Guest revealed that he's a student of history and "looks forward to "sharing some special moments in Bandera's military history."