Lt. Col. Christopher Cronin Takes Command of Utica-Based 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry on Sunday, Feb. 10

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Lt. Col Christopher Cronin

UTICA, NY (02/08/2013)(readMedia)-- New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Christopher R. Cronin, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, will take command of the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry here on Sunday, Feb. 10.

He will replace Lt. Col. Joseph Biehler who is slated to take command of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

WHO: Lt. Col. Christopher Cronin, the incoming commander, Lt. Col. Joseph Biehler, the outgoing commander, Col. Geoffery Slack, the current commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and the Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry.

WHAT: A traditional military change of command in which Biehler will pass the unit colors, or flag, to Cronin signifying the change in responsibility for the organization's Soldiers and mission. Traditionally the colors indicated the unit's location on the battlefield and the location of the commander. The military ritual was designed to allow the Soldiers to see who they would follow in the fight.

WHEN: 3 p.m., Sunday, February 10.

WHERE: New York State Armory, 1700 Parkway East, Utica, NY 13501

Coverage Opportunities:

Reporters will be able to interview the incoming and outgoing commanders and leaders. Visual imagery opportunities include the change of command ceremony and Soldiers in formation.

Members of the press must contact 1st Lt. Jason Uhlig at (315) 263-6918 to gain access to this secure military facility.


Lt. Col. Christopher Cronin

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher R. Cronin was commissioned a second lieutenant, Infantry, upon graduation from Syracuse University in October of 1993. He is a graduate of the United States Army Airborne School, Air Assault School, Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School and the Command and General Staff College.

His duty assignments include a three year tour as a member of the New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, and service as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Anti-Armor Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Anti-Armor Company Commander, and at staff assignments at the battalion, brigade and division level. He has served in the Army National Guard and the Army Reservesince 1990..

He served in Afghanistan in 2007-2008 as the Operations Officer for tactical trainers supporting the 1st Brigade of the Afghan Army's 203rd Army Corps. He also served as training team chief in support of an Afghan Infantry battalion, in which he was in combat numerous times along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

Cronin's awards include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Parachutist Badgem the Air Assault Badge, the German Army Marksmanship Badge and the German Army Athletic Badge.

Lt. Col. Joseph Biehler

Lt. Col. Joseph Biehler was commissioned as an Infantry officer in May 1987 and joined the New York Army National Guard. He has held positions as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Mortar Platoon Leader, Support Platoon Leader, Company Commander, battalion supply, operations and executive officer, Division Liaison Officer, and Battalion Commander.

Biehler is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms Staff Service School, Intermediate Level Education, Infantry Pre-Command Course, Airborne School, Air Assault School, and Ranger School.

Biehler was born in Rochester, New York and graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School in 1983. He has earned Bachelor's of Science degrees in both Accounting and Management from St. John Fisher College in 1987 and is a Certified Public Accountant in New York State.

Biehler's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service MedalBasic Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

In civilian life Biehler is a Finance Senior Manager for Harris Corporation in Rochester, NY.

He and his wife Sonya life in Webster, NY with their twin sons Thomas and Andrew.

2nd Battalion 108th Infantry

The 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment is a light infantry battalion headquartered in Utica, NY with approximately 800 Soldiers assigned to six companies located across Western, Central and Northern New York State.

The battalion has been heavily engaged in the Global War on Terrorism, serving on Federal homeland defense duty in the wake of the September 11th attacks and then conducting combat operations in Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan (Companies A, B and D) in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, the battalion conducted counterinsurgency training with the Royal Thai Army during exercise Cobra Gold.

The 108th Infantry Regiment was first organized as the 3rd Regiment N. Y. Infantry ("Third New York") in 1898 from several independent companies located in western New York. The Regiment mobilized for duty during the War with Spain in 1898 and served along the Mexican Border in 1916.

In World War I, the Regiment was officially re-designated as the 108th Infantry and deployed to France with New York's 27th "Empire" Division, the unit best known for breaking the "impregnable" Hindenburg line. The 108th's campaign credits include the Somme Offensive, Ypres-Lys, Flanders (1918), as well as the Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne, and Meuse-Argonne for Companies A & C. In 1918 Pvt. Frank Gaffney became the first 108th Soldier to earn the Medal of Honor "when single-handed and wounded he captured a machine gun nest," leading to the capture of 80 enemy men.

The Regiment mobilized with the 27th Division again in World War II, but was re-assigned in 1942 to the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard. The 108th's campaign credits from World War II include the Bismarck Archipelago, Leyte, Luzon, and the Southern Philippines (with arrowhead), as well as the Eastern Mandates, Western Pacific, and Ryukus for the Headquarters Company and Company C. For its role in the liberation of the Philippines, the 108th received the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.

The 108th Infantry Regiment returned to the 27th Division following World War II. It saw a score of re-designations in the post-war years, but always maintained a presence in Central and Western New York. The 1st battalion 108th Infantry and 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry served in multiple state-led actions and was a round-out unit to the 10th Mountain Division during the 1980s.

In 2004, the 2nd Battalion was mobilized for service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and became the first infantry battalion from the NYARNG to deploy for war since World War II. Augmented by Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry and 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry, the unit conducted combat operations with the 1st Infantry Division in the Sunni Triangle. The unit earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation for its duty in Iraq.

After returning from Iraq, the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion of the 108th merged under the 2nd Battalion's colors as the only active battalion of the Regiment. In 2007, the 108th Infantry mobilized three companies and dozens of individual Soldiers to deploy with the 27th Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan. Assuming the on-going mission of Task Force Phoenix (VII), the 27th BCT provided security forces and advisors to the nascent Afghan army and police forces. All told, the battalion mobilized more than 350 Soldiers for duty with elements of Task Force Phoenix. The main body of 108th Soldiers returned from Afghanistan in December 2008.

In 2012 the battalion deployed to Afghanistan once again. The bulk of the battalion conducted security missions in Afghanistan, including participating in Operation Shrimps Net, a mission to help the Italian Army close down one of their Afghanistan bases. One company of the battalion remained in Kuwait to perform security missions there. The battlion returned from that deployment in the fall of 2012.