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La. National Guard’s ‘Tigator’ battalion welcomes new commander

By Staff Sgt. Noshoba Davis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

PINEVILLE, La – The Louisiana National Guard’s 769th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team welcomed Lt. Col. Michael Bendich III as their new commander during an official change of command ceremony at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Baton Rouge, Feb. 4.

Bendich, a native of New Orleans, assumed command from Lt. Col. Barry Riley, who has served as commander since September 2020. Riley is currently the director of the LANG’s Youth Challenge Program at Gillis W. Long and will be assuming the role of deputy J4, logistics officer. Riley has also been accepted to attend the residence course at the Army War College.

“First and foremost, I’d like to thank God and the leadership of the State for giving me this experience,” said Riley. “Tigator, your actions have always showed me that you’re willing to do the job. I’ve always appreciated that, and it has been a very humbling experience.”

Brig. Gen. Cindy Haygood, the assistant adjutant general – Army of the LANG, presided over the ceremony, giving praise to both Riley and Bendich on their success and new endeavors.

“Barry, I want to thank you for the 39 months of a successful command. You’ve continued to move this battalion forward while caring for every Soldier and their families,” said Haygood. “Mike, this has been one of your dream opportunities to come back to the 769th to lead these fine men and women of the Tigator battalion. You’ll need to continue to move this battalion forward in a resource constrained environment, but you have a great team to support that task and you.”

Bendich, who began his career with the 769th, received his commission through the Officer Candidate School in Louisiana in 2001. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business and a master’s degree in public administration from Upper Iowa University. He currently works full-time as the deputy J36, cyber operations officer.

“Brig. Gen. Haygood, thank you and Brig. Gen. Friloux for giving me the opportunity to command the best battalion in the Louisiana National Guard,” said Bendich. “Lt. Col. Riley, thank you for your leadership, dedication and commitment to the Tigators for the last three years. I look forward to picking up where you left off and taking this great group of Soldiers to the next level.”

Headquartered in Baton Rouge, the 769th consists of Headquarters and Headquarters Company in Baton Rouge, A Company in New Roads, B Company in Napoleonville, C Company and D Company in Lafayette and E Company in Baton Rouge.

The 769th can trace its history back to 1770. The battalion was activated for WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War. The 769th mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007 and Operation Inherent Resolve in 2021. The 769th was activated in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the major floods throughout Louisiana in 2016.

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