Kansas Army National Guard Sgt. Kenneth Kester and Sgt. Christopher Rectenwald, 242nd Engineer Company, discuss the outer perimeter of the tactical assembly area June 1, 2019, at Fort Irwin, California. Rectenwald is assigned to the 242nd Engineer Company as a combat medic. (Photo by Sgt. Mason Cutrer, Idaho Army National Guard)

Kansas Army National Guard medic serves Jefferson County, country

By Capt. Robert Taylor
Idaho Army National Guard

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 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 an 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.

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.