Illinois Guardsmen Represent United States at NATO Summit PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Army Staff Sgt. Jaime L. Witt, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 12:35

Representing one's nation at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Three Illinois Guardsmen received that opportunity by participating in the opening ceremony of the NATO Summit in Chicago May 20.

The Illinois Guardsmen, Army Capt. Oluwatoyin Hines of Chicago, Senior Airman Michael D. Citchens of Peoria, and Tech. Sgt. Jacob Curtis of Fairview Heights represented U. S. Armed Services in a color guard who performed for the Heads of State during the opening of the international conference. Military representatives from all 28 nations in NATO participated in the opening ceremony, which featured drill and ceremony, the playing of Taps and Reveille.

Curtis with the 126th Security Forces Squadron at Scott Air Force Base and 2011 Air National Guard Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, served as the primary U.S. military representative, while Citchens and Hines served as alternates.

"To be selected to be the person to represent our entire nation's military was an honor," he said. "I felt privileged and I couldn't image all of the military men and women who gave their lives, while I was up there representing them to show NATO leaders who we are."

Citchens, an integrated avionics specialist with the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, said he appreciated the experience.

"I can't really put it into words," he said. "It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm grateful to be a part of something of that magnitude. Being in the same room as the leaders of the 28 nations of NATO was indescribable."

Hines, a chaplain with the 108th Sustainment Brigade in Chicago works full-time as the Wounded Warrior chaplain for the Illinois Army National Guard and said she was honored to have been selected to participate.

"It was powerful to be able to connect with other servicemembers internationally," Hines said. "It made me perceive my job as a chaplain differently. It made me more patriotic for our country."

All three Guardsmen were selected a month before the summit took place.

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