When Capt. Amie Kemppainen took command of B Company, 3rdBattalion, 126thInfantry Regiment, she became the Army’s the first female to lead a Michigan Army National Guard infantry battalion.
The 15-year veteran came into the job through a prior stint as a plans officer on the battalion staff. During her time, Kemppainen realized she would be responsible for attracting other women into infantry roles. Before she would feel comfortable doing that, she felt she needed a closer perspective of infantry operations. She entered the Maneuver Captains Career Course, and became the first woman in the Michigan Guard to complete it. She then completed infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga., and accrued enough rated time to earn the infantry tab. In time, she would serve as a rifle platoon leader.
“I didn’t set out to be the first of anything. I only want to look back and know that I made a difference, that I encouraged others to do more, and be more, and give more,” Kemppainen said. “The fact that I am opening doors for women is great, but I want my actions to be an example of what doing it right looks like – regardless of gender.”
Her unit traces its lineage back to the Civil War, during which its soldiers fought at Gettysburg and the two battles of Manassas. Its soldiers also saw action in the Marne and Argonne Forest during World War I, and New Guinea and Luzon in the Philippines. Most recently, soldiers from the unit fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.