A FEW MINUTES WITH ... Lt. Col. Bill Haygood

POSITION: Commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment.

AGE: 44.

Lt. Col. Bill Haygood, a native of Monroe and resident of Gonzales, was appointed in April to his new command of the Louisiana National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment. He assumed command from Lt. Col. Brad Sonnier. A graduate of Northeast Louisiana University (now the University of Louisiana at Monroe), Haygood attended officer candidate school and in 1991 was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Louisiana Army National Guard. His deployments included service in Afghanistan in 2003 with the 205th Engineer Battalion during Operation Enduring Freedom and to Haiti in 2010 to help build schools following an earthquake. He is currently manager of the state Office of Community Development Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Why did you decide to join the Louisiana National Guard?

I joined about a week after graduating from high school because it made it possible for me to attend college. The guard paid my college tuition and provided some income pay for the two days a month I drilled.

During your deployment to Afghanistan, what were some of the 205th Engineer Battalion’s biggest accomplishments?

The 205th Engineer Battalion is a construction battalion headquartered out of Bogalusa. The most significant contribution the battalion made was improving the quality of life for the soldiers that were there and those that replaced us. The 205th Engineer Battalion built and improved living quarters for the soldiers stationed at Kandahar and Bagram Airfields and at forward operating bases throughout the country.

The 2nd Battalion that you now command is one of six in the Louisiana National Guard 256th Infantry Brigade. What are the unique aspects of the 2nd Battalion?

The 2nd Battalion is part of the 156th Infantry Regiment and has been in continuous service since 1861. Through its long history, seven major wars have been fought. Most recently ... the 2nd Battalion was called to duty on Jan. 5, 2011, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The regimental motto is “Dieu et Moi,” meaning “God and Me.” The battalion motto is “Steel Lightning.”

How many soldiers are there in the 2nd Battalion? Do they have a deployment scheduled?

The battalion typically has about 800 soldiers. There are no scheduled mandatory deployments for the 2nd Battalion. There are several opportunities for soldiers to volunteer for missions in the near future. We have soldiers going on two-week training missions to Belize and Puerto Rico this summer.

Advocate staff writer Ellyn

Couvillion