Command of “Fighting 69th” Changes Hands

NEW YORK Change was the theme inside the historic 69th Regiment Armory Saturday, as approximately 90 Soldiers and well-wishers packed the drill floor to celebrate the change of command of one of New York National Guard’s most historic units here, November 20, 2010.

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            Command of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment officially transferred from Lt. Col. John Andonie to Maj. James C. Gonyo II in a ceremony equal parts celebration, tradition and acknowledgment.

            Lt. Col. John Andonie, a West Point graduate who earned a Bronze Star in Iraq, Andonie, was in charge of the “Fighting 69th” for two years. Now, he moves onto a staff assignment at the New York National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters as deputy director of operations and training.

            Maj. James C. Gonyo II, who received his commission in Fort Benning, Ga., also received his Bronze Star in Iraq. During his 19-year military career, he has served in a variety of assignments, including tactical officer for the NYNG’s Officer Candidate School and commander of the New York National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force, among others.

            “The last two years have been an incredible ride for me,” said Andonie. “I don’t think there’s any assignment out there that compares to being commander of the 69th.

            “No one ever leaves the Fighting 69th,” Andonie added. “We’re all part of one family, connected by our history, our lineage, and our supporters.”

            “Today is not about me, it’s about Col. Andonie,” Gonyo said. “It’s about sharing our love, and our thanks for the job that he’s done”.

            “I look forward to serving with you,” Gonyo said, addressing his future Soldiers. “You’re a great group of Americans and today is one of the proudest moments in my military career.”

            The 1-69th Infantry is headquartered in the historic Lexington Avenue Armory in New York City. The battalion's Company A is also based there, while Company B is located in Huntingdon and Freeport, Suffolk County; Company C has elements at Camp Smith in Westchester County and Leeds, Greene County. Company D is in Bayshore, Suffolk County.