Military & Veterans News
Specialized Springfield Based National Guard Team Returns from Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Thursday, 01 November 2012 15:27

SPRINGFIELD, IL (10/31/2012)(readMedia)-- Approximately 20 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers who served in Afghanistan will return to Illinois this week. The homecoming ceremony for the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A9 will be Nov. 1 at 9 a.m. Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield.

The BEST Soldiers were mobilized in January. They trained for a brief time at Camp Atterbury, Ind., before deploying to Poland for approximately two months to train with the Polish Land Forces 6th Airborne Brigade. The unique mission allowed Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers to train and deploy side-by-side with their Polish counterparts. Following the training, the Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan for a six-month mobilization. The Soldiers are from various parts of Illinois and were selected for the mission based on their training and skills.

The team was part of Task Force White Eagle XI, which included more than 3,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from the U.S., Poland and Ukraine. The task force kept the roads between Kabul and Kandahar safe and reduced the insurgent influence in the area.

Task Force White Eagle had the highest rate of found and cleared roadside bombs in the region, greatly reducing the number of innocent civilians, Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition Forces who were injured or killed. The task force also worked in regions of the country that were previously neglected and helped build a new security presence. Additionally, the servicemembers worked with the Internal Security Assistance Force to coordinate and execute multiple raids with Afghanistan commanders that targeted the Taliban in Ghazni Province. The raids captured and removed a majority of the Taliban commanders and sub-commanders in the region. The task force also found and removed more than 30,000 kilograms of explosive materials from the area and the team found more than $21.3 million of lost and unaccounted for property.

BEST A9 was awarded 13 Bronze Star Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, two Combat Infantry Badges and three Combat Action Badges. They also received four Polish Army Medals-Silver and five Polish Army Medals-Bronze.

 
America's Most Decorated Living Veteran Exposes Hidden History in New Book PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Tim Bueler   
Monday, 22 October 2012 13:23
The nation is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, but General Patrick Brady says that the real story of the conflict is not being told. In his new book, "Dead Men Flying: Victory in Viet Nam - The Legend of Dust Off, America's Battlefield Angels" (Release date: October 9, 2012), General Brady reveals that America achieved a victory unparalleled in the history of warfare through its humanitarian efforts.

General Brady, a recipient of the Medal of Honor who is considered by some pundits to be America's most decorated living veteran, writes that humanitarianism was the great untold story of the Vietnam War. American soldiers risked their lives not just for each other but for the Vietnamese people, sometimes even enemy soldiers.

At the heart of this effort was "Dust Off," the helicopter rescue program that was the most dangerous of all aviation operations. General Brady headed the 54th Medical Detachment, which rescued thousands of both enemy and friendly personnel while accumulating 26 Purple Hearts.

The selfless bravery of helicopter rescue pilots has often been overlooked in histories of the Vietnam War that present the conflict as an endless series of carnage. However, General Brady exposes the perseverance of compassion, courage, and faith even in the midst of war.

He also shows how air ambulance operations were critical to the morale of American soldiers in Vietnam and how he had to fight to maintain the autonomy of "Dust Off" as a separate unit. Even today, the controversy continues as bureaucrats attempt to remove air medical rescue's ability to operate as distinct units. The story of "Dust Off" is more relevant than ever.

"Dead Men Flying" is a new perspective on the Vietnam War, an insightful study of airborne military operations, and a tale of courage and sacrifice that no American can afford to ignore.

Major General Pat Brady served over 34 years in the Army in duty stations across the world: In Berlin during the building of the Wall; as commander of the DMZ in Korea; in the Dominican Republic; in the Pentagon as chief spokesman for the Army and for 2 years in Vietnam. In two tours in Vietnam he rescued over 5000 wounded and flew over 2500 combat missions. He is identified in the Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War as the top helicopter pilot in that war and is one of two Vietnam soldiers to earn both the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross, our nation's second highest award.

His awards include: Two Distinguished Service Medals; the Defense Superior Service Medal: the Legion of Merit; six Distinguished Flying Crosses; two Bronze Stars, one for valor; the Purple Heart and 53 Air Medals, one for valor. He is a member of both the Army Aviation and Dust Off Halls of Fame. Brady is a former president of the Medal of Honor Society and a past Commissioner of the Battle Monuments Commission during the construction of the WWII memorial. General Brady has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Seattle University and an MBA from Notre Dame University.

 
183rd Airman Selected for International Leadership Course PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Friday, 19 October 2012 07:05

FURSTENFELDBRUCK, GERMANY (10/18/2012)(readMedia)-- For one intense week in September, more than 40 junior officers from seven countries participated in the International Junior Officer Leadership Development Course (IJOLD) 2012 at the German Air Force Officer School to enhance and refine their leadership skills, cultural understanding and military officership.

Capt. Stacey Rieger of San Jose, Ill., with the Illinois Air National Guard's 183rd Air Mobility Operations Squadron in Springfield was among four Air National Guard members selected by National Guard Bureau to participant in IJOLD 2012.

"There are not many leadership development programs available for junior officers," said Rieger. "This was an incredible opportunity to broaden my management and leadership skills with other company grade officers in a multi-national setting."

The Air Force Reserve Command sponsored IJOLDS program began in 1994 at the NATO school in Oberammergau, Germany with 18 participants from five countries. Since then, the annual event has expanded to include more than 60 students with briefings on international leadership, team building, cultural diversity, international relations and cross-cultural mobilization issues. This is the first year the National Guard Bureau has sponsored lieutenants and captains for the course.

"IJOLD is a great forum for junior officers from many countries to build relationships early in their careers," said Maj. Gen. Donald Ralph, mobilization assistance to the commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and chairman for the Committee on Leadership Development. "Joint leadership training is essential in today's global arena, where working with multinational forces and partner nations is the standard."

Working together and understanding differences was a key aspect of the training.

Capt. Sam Stephens, of Tulsa, Okla., an F-16 pilot with the Oklahoma Air National Guard in Tulsa said, "Foreign militaries may have different customs, courtesies, and cultures, but people, as individuals, desire the exact same guidance and motivation to both follow and lead."

"Leadership is important to junior officers because of the responsibility of their rank, making them leaders from the start," said Col. Jim Kerr, Air Force Reserve Command Professional Development Center Chief. "IJOLD, and other programs like it, provide opportunities to bring young officers together to develop leadership skills."

IJOLD events ranged from lectures on German military structure and history to tours of the Bavarian state capital and German Air Force base. During the field exercise at the German Airborne Training School, participants worked together, overcoming leadership differences and communication challenges to accomplish various tasks. Communication was essential to accomplishing tasks, including a land navigation that required completing unique tasks at each waypoint.

Second Lt. Doug Carlson of Lincoln, Neb., from the 155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National Guard, said listening was the one leadership skill he enhanced during IJOLD.

"Overcoming the language barrier creates the perfect opportunity to learn to listen rather than talk," said Carlson

Throughout activities, IJOLD participants shared their experiences with each other.

"One of my favorite aspects of IJOLD was having the time to talk to so many people from many different backgrounds. Since all the participants were reservists, everyone had at least two stories to tell – their military story and their civilian story," said Rieger. "Not only did I learn about the structure and history of the German military, I heard the personal element. For example, it was great to hear what some of our German counterparts thought about the wall coming down, reunification between East and West Germany and the challenges they are still working through, even after more than 20 years."

Those conversations enhanced the cultural understanding and supported international relations, which along with developing friendships and partnerships were main goals of IJOLD.

"It was sad to leave at the end of week," said Rieger. "I learned a great deal about our NATO partners, but more importantly, I have a new network of colleagues and friends that I look forward to seeing again in the future."

That sentiment is shared, not only by the participants, but by senior leaders who see the value in IJOLD and programs like it.

"I was amazed at the friendships that were made by the end of the week. It was almost weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, as the expression goes, when it came time to go home," said Kerr, who attended IJOLD in 2011.

Each year IJOLDS is conducted in a different NATO country. Past seminars have been held in Switzerland, Canada, the United States and the Netherlands. Next year England will host their international counterparts.

 
Simon appoints Lemont, Coal Valley citizens to military committee PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Kara Beach   
Thursday, 18 October 2012 07:57
Volunteer members advocate for military base retention, economic development

SPRINGFIELD – October 17, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon appointed two residents with job creation experience to her Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development committee today with unanimous support from the committee's members.

The two new volunteers, who hail from southwest suburban Chicago and the Quad Cities region, will join the committee in advocating for the retention and reuse of Illinois’ military bases and working to strengthen the regional economies near military installations.

“These new members represent a wealth of economic development experience that will bring new perspectives to our work,” said Simon, chairwoman of the military base committee, during its quarterly meeting in Springfield. “I’m pleased to welcome Rick Kawsneski and Paul Rumler to our team.”

Kwasneski, of Lemont, and Rumler, of Coal Valley, join six other public members, representatives from various state agencies and four members of the General Assembly on the committee. The committee’s public members draw upon their experiences from an array of career fields – including economic development, education, government and the military – to serve the state.

Kwasneski is a former village trustee and mayor of Lemont, who is the executive director of the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority. The Authority is responsible for overseeing the development of 3,000 acres at the former Joliet Arsenal into two industrial parks. In his role as executive director, Kwasneski is responsible for implementing policies and directives of the Authority. Kwasneski is also involved with the Will County Center for Economic Development, the Association of Defense Communities and the Council for Urban Economic Development

Rumler attended Black Hawk College in Moline before graduating from Georgia State University and working in Washington for the federal government. More recently Rumler has served on the Illinois Quad City Chamber of Commerce, helping implement the Chamber’s strategic plan and advocating for policy decisions. Rumler was the executive director for the Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition which secured federal, state, and local funds to complete Chicago to Quad Cities passenger rail by 2015. Rumler is currently the executive vice president for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Rock Island Arsenal Alliance.

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183rd Fighter Wing to build housing in Springfield with Habitat for Humanity PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 08:26

SPRINGFIELD, IL (10/13/2012)(readMedia)-- The U.S. Department of Defense has approved an Innovative Readiness Training project that will allow the Airmen of the 183rd Civil Engineer Squadron, 183rd Fighter Wing to build affordable, safe and decent housing with Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County in local low-income neighborhoods.

183rd Fighter Wing Commander Col. Michael Meyer announced the partnership today with representatives from Habitat for Humanity and the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association at the site of the first project, a two-story townhouse that will be built at 1137 North 5th Street, Springfield.

"This is a win-win for both the Illinois Air National Guard, Habitat for Humanity, and – most importantly - local low-income families," said Illinois National Guard Assistant Adjutant General – Air Brig. Gen. William Cobetto. "Our Airmen practice the skills they need to perform their military missions and, through Habitat for Humanity, local families get decent safe housing."

The project is scheduled for three years and the 183rd CES will help build as many as 12 homes in Sangamon County. Three of those homes are slated to be built in Springfield's Enos Park Neighborhood. Habitat for Humanity will provide the building materials and supplies as well as meals for the Airmen working on the project and the Airmen will provide the labor and tradesman skills they acquired from their military training.

"As the Commander-in-Chief of the Illinois National Guard, I am so proud that Illinois was one of a handful of states to administer an Innovative Readiness Training Project approved by the Department of Defense," Gov. Pat Quinn said. "This project will improve the training of our men and women in uniform and strengthen the communities where they live and work."

This isn't the first DoD-approved Innovative Readiness Training project for the 183rd CES. Last year, approximately 35 members of the squadron helped construct a 3,200-square-foot adult programs building for the St. Michaels Association for Special Education in the heart of Navajo Nation in Arizona.

"My Airmen really enjoyed helping the Navaho Nation, but this project is even better," Meyer said. "Now they are helping their own communities in their own state. This is very special to us."

To acquire DoD assistance through the Innovative Readiness Training program, Habitat for Humanity had to submit an approval packet that underwent legal, fiscal and operational scrutiny. The local nonprofit had to prove the IRT would not put the military in competition with local contractors, would be a fiscally responsible use of military training funds and the work performed would accurately exercise the military skills the Airmen would need to perform their military mission. The 183rd CES' wartime mission is to build structures in support of military operations.

Airmen with the 183rd Civil Engineer Squadron, 183rd Fighter Wing help construct a home with Habitat for Humanity through an Innovative Readiness Training project in Springfield, Oct. 13.

 
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