Captain Melanie Sharp with her husband Todd and children Henry, Kahlia, and Peyton at the change of command ceremony on Sept. 16.
Melanie Sharp of rural Kellogg is a familiar face in the community who wears many hats – wife to Todd, doting mom of three children, Language Arts teacher to hundreds of Lynnville-Sully middle schoolers, and a youth group leader at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church. What you may not know is she is also known as Captain Sharp to her fellow service members at the Iowa National Guard. On Saturday, Sept. 16, Sharp added yet another title to her resume – that of Commander of Iowa National Guard’s 135th Mobile Public Affairs detachment (MPAD).
Sharp’s service career started back in her college days at the University of Northern Iowa. Sharp joined the ROTC and participated all four years of college. In 1999, Sharp committed to eight years of service in the Iowa National Career. She started as a Cadet in the 135th MPAD, was commissioned to Second Lieutenant in 2002, served as Commander for the 1088th Personnel Detachment, and served as Deputy I for the 671st Troop Com-mand. During her near 11-year term in the Iowa National Guard, Sharp was also deployed to Kosovo for a year, served a deployment in Ottumwa for flood relief in 2008, and participated in overseas training in El Salvador, Germany, and Korea.
Sharp stepped away from the service in 2010 to focus on raising her three children. Nearly 11 years after completing a near 11-year term, Sharp decided in 2021 to return to the Iowa National Guard to complete the commitment she made years prior. She started as a Deputy S1 in the Joint Operations Cell at the start of her second stint with the Iowa National Guard. Just this past summer, Sharp interviewed for command of the 135th MPAD – the same unit she started with back in 1999 – and was selected. “It’s a very humbling experience to get to come back and command the unit you grew up in,” said Sharp.
The 135th MPAD is the only public affairs unit with mass communication specialists in the state of Iowa. The unit uses photography, videography, writing, and graphic design skills to help tell the Iowa National Guard story.
The unit’s duties fit right into Sharp’s wheelhouse – she has her bachelor of arts degree in English and Writing, a master’s of education in teacher leadership, and she has worked in education for the past 13 years. As commander of the 135th MPAD, Sharp will oversee every soldier’s performance and the overall daily progress of the company. She is responsible for the training, safety, security, and discipline of every solider in her care and for mission accomplishment. “Taking command is a big responsibility, but I feel confident moving forward with support of my family and community,” said Sharp.
Sharp juggles her many responsibilities well and credits her family’s support and that of her employer, the Lynnville-Sully Community School District, for allowing her to take on such an honorable military commitment. “The school has worked with me in every aspect of my service time,” said Sharp. “When I told them about my command opportunity, not only did they encourage me to move forward with it, but they also offered their support in any way possible.”
Sharp took command of the 135th MPAD during a change of command ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 16, with her family and many friends and coworkers in attendance. The change of command ceremony honored the outgoing commander and allows Sharp, the incoming commander, to assess the readiness and discipline of the unit at her first formation. Sharp explains the second mission of the command ceremony also “serves as a definite point in time, with the passing of the guidon, for the responsibility of command to the past commander to the new commander.”
More recognition and honor may be on the horizon for Sharp as the possibility of promotion to Major may occur by the end of September. Currently, Sharp is commander of the 135th MPAD and has the rank of Captain within the Iowa National Guard. Given her lengthy list of service as well as military awards including Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, NATO Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, there is no doubt the Iowa National Guard has made a solid choice in selecting Sharp as a respected leader.