Military & Veterans News
Botswana Defense Force and Illinois National Guard Combine Efforts on Road Improvement and Pond Recovery PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Story by Sgt. James D. Sims, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Friday, 10 August 2012 08:18

MKANKAKE VILLAGE, THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA (08/09/2012)(readMedia)-- The Illinois Army National Guard's 631st Engineer Support Company from Lawrenceville, Ill., is assisting the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) engineers with a road improvement and pond restoration project near Mkankake Village in the Republic of Botswana, as part of Southern Accord 2012 (SA 12).

SA 12 is an annual combined, joint exercise which brings together U.S. military personnel with counterparts from the BDF to conduct humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation to enhance military capabilities and interoperability.

"This is a five and a half mile stretch of road that leads to Mkankake Range," said 1st Lt. Jera Muder of Riverton, Ill., the platoon leader for the road improvement project with the 631st. "Currently it is unserviceable and our goal is to complete as much of this project as we can before we have to go back to Illinois."

The road is a natural conduit for rainwater as it flows from high ground and washes out sections of road, rendering it impassable.

"The part of the road we are currently working on has too much sand, so we are removing enough of it to get to a more solid surface," said Muder. "We will then bring in water trucks to wet the surface, rip it up, grade the surface and flatten it out. This will create a hard surface we can then lay gravel on."

The 631st will help to complete as much of the road as they can during their time in Botswana. After the engineers leave, the BDF will conclude the project.

"It has been very good working with the Americans," said Sgt. Lebuse Kobe, a roads technician with the BDF engineers. "We have learned as much from them as we have given them information on how we do our roads. The locals are happy because this is also a road that leads to their village and gives them a better road for travelling."

Concurrent to the road project is a pond restoration near the village, which is used to water livestock and other small agricultural needs.

"This is a small pond that would essentially dry up halfway through the dry season and the livestock depend on it for water," said Sgt. 1st Class John Jones, from Bloomington, Ind., with the 631st. "The elders of the village asked the BDF to expand and deepen the pond so it would last longer."

"We will widen the front of the pond by 20 to 25 meters and increase the depth on the back side by 10 to 15 feet," said Sgt. Galen Dellinger, a heavy equipment operator with the 631st, from Lawrenceville, Ill., "tripling the size of the existing pond."

As the road improvement team passes the pond restoration site, both teams will connect the drainage ditches from the road to the pond so there is more supply to keep the pond from drying up too early.

Although the team from Illinois will have to leave prior to the completion of the project, they are confident the BDF will see it through to completion, said Muder.

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Photo 2: Photo by Sgt. James Sims, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Staff Sgt. David Abell of Sumner, Ill. with the 631st Engineer Support Company from Lawrenceville, Ill., conducts a bridge reconnaissance and classification class for the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) and U.S. Army engineers. The class came during a break from the road and pond reconstruction projects the engineers have been working on near Mkankake Range, as part of Southern Accord 2012. SA 12 is an annual combined, joint exercise which brings together U.S. military personnel with their counterparts from the BDF, to conduct humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation to enhance military capabilities and interoperability.

 
Illinois National Guard Funeral and Honors Team Close to Record Year PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by 1st Lt. Dutch Grove   
Friday, 10 August 2012 08:16

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/09/2012)(readMedia)-- The Illinois National Guard Funeral and Honors team is training and certifying 13 new team members at Camp Lincoln in Springfield Aug. 4 to 10.

During fiscal year 2012, which ends Sept. 30, the funerals and honors team has supported 3,078 funerals, just 224 funerals shy of the most ever.

The six funeral and honors offices in Illinois have 63 Soldiers and Airmen assigned and have supported an average of 288 funerals per month over the last two fiscal years.

Staff Sgt. Brandon Page of Marion, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry in Marion and a funerals and honors instructor said the teams work between 60 and 70 hours per week. The majority of that time is spent preparing their uniforms, practicing flag folding and other drill and ceremony tasks.

"We're the last group of Soldiers the family of a fallen servicemember may see for the rest of their life and we have to leave a positive, lasting impression," said Page.

Page volunteered for the funerals and honors team nearly three years ago. He previously served in the active Army when he witnessed his platoon sergeant die from an improvised explosive device during a deployment to Iraq.

"When you go to war and see people killed, you also see the devastating effect on the family. We have to work hard and put in the hours to ensure every move is perfect during the service," said Page.

The state trainers must complete an 80-hour course at the Professional Education Center at Camp Robinson, Little Rock, Ark. The course has a 91 percent pass rate, but Illinois National Guard servicemembers have a 100 percent pass rate.

Pfc. Keith Robinson of Chicago with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry in Chicago will be certified at the end of the course and said his motivation is simple, "to give respect to the fallen."

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PHOTO 1: U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Dutch Grove Illinois National Guard Public Affairs/ Sgt. Ryan Melvin, of Carthage, assigned to Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery in Macomb and Pfc. Keith Robinson of Chicago with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion 178th Infantry in Chicago rehearse rendering military honors during the funeral and honors certification course at Camp Lincoln in Springfield Aug. 8. The Illinois National Guard Funeral and Honors team expects to support more funerals this fiscal year than it ever has in its existence.

 
East St. Louis Unit Supports 20 Deployments, but Has Yet to Get Battle Streamer PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Friday, 10 August 2012 07:44

EAST ST.LOUIS, IL (08/09/2012)(readMedia)-- Ask a Soldier with the 1344th Transportation Company in East St. Louis if he/she has deployed and the answer will likely be "yes." Some may even say they have been deployed two or three times in their career. However, in the nearly 11 years since the military has deployed servicemembers in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, the 1344th has never been mobilized for an overseas mission.

"I have been with this unit for 19 years," said 1st Sgt. Cory L. Harbison of Mulkeytown. "Our flag has never flown overseas...but we still have a motivated group."

While the 1344th has never deployed, most of the Soldiers in the unit have been mobilized. In fact, Soldiers in the 1344th have supported more than 20 Illinois Army National Guard units that have mobilized since Sept. 11, 2001.

Many of the Soldiers are mentally prepared for a long-term deployment. Many are excited about the experience a deployment would bring the unit and for the opportunity to lead other Soldiers.

Capt. Matthew P. Wood of Springfield, 1344th company commander, said a majority of the Soldiers have been negatively impacted by the tough economic area of East St. Louis and are either working part-time or unemployed.

The Soldiers of the 1344th remain committed to being prepared for whatever comes their way.

"We are flexible to do whatever it takes," said Harbison. "We can meet any mission. We have no problems accomplishing any mission given in the past so I have no reason to believe we wouldn't continue that same success."

Some upcoming missions include homeland defense operations.

"We have our homeland security mission so we are always working on preparing ourselves," said Wood. "If the opportunity for a deployment arises we are going to be ready and we are going to be chomping at the bit, but that's a decision for echelons above me."

Regardless of the 1344th's future operations, there is one thing these Soldiers will always be committed to.

"We're just going to continue to drive like hell," said Wood.

Wood's goal, which happens to be the company motto, is something they are determined to succeed at regardless of where or what its mission is.

 
Internet Scam Targets Illinois National Guard PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:52

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/08/2012)(readMedia)-- The Illinois National Guard is the target of a recent e-mail scam intended to reach spouses of deployed servicemembers and defraud them out of more than $1,000.

"These criminals are attempting to play upon the desire of our military spouses to see their servicemembers home on leave," said Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti of Springfield, Illinois National Guard Acting Adjutant General. "It is our priority to protect our families and deployed heroes from these despicable criminals and the financial and emotional harm they would cause."

The fraudulent e-mail is sent directly to military spouses from someone claiming to be Celletti. It refers to a deployed servicemember by name and references a cost of luggage required from the beneficiary before the servicemember can travel for approved temporary leave.

"This is certainly a scam, like ones we have seen in the past," said Chief Warrant Officer (2) John Chepulis of Chatham with the Illinois National Guard's Provost Marshall's Office. "The expertise and authority to investigate matters like this are referred to our civilian law enforcement partners who have been made aware of this situation."

If anyone feels they have been affected by this scam, please report the issue to the FBI Cyber Crime website at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud/.

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Army Wife Smashes Rifle Shooting Record! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Move America Forward   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:49
ARMY WIFE TAKES GOLD IN WOMEN'S 3 POSITION RIFLE
SETS NEW OLYMPIC RECORD, THE BEST SCORE IN HISTORY


With the whole world watching the Olympic games in London, this is a perfect opportunity to recognize some amazing military athletes who not only serve in the Armed Forces, but are now competing to be the best in the world at the Olympics.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT OUR HEROES COMPETING
ON THE BATTLEFIELD IN AFGHANISTAN

As we celebrate our Military Olympians, who can do such amazing things in their events, let us not forget the amazing things our troops overseas do every day in Afghanistan.

Our troops continue fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda despite the 110+ degree heat and diminishing media coverage about their efforts. They fight to make sure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven and training ground for terrorist to plot attacks to kill American civilians - which is their aim! 

Our fighting military will not receive media attention or acclaim for their heroic acts, but we will thank them with a care packages of support from home.



JAMIE GRAY, WIFE OF ARMY SSG. HANK GRAY WINS OLYMPIC GOLD
BEST SCORE IN HISTORY SHOOTING PRONE, STANDING & KNEELING

Keep reading every day from now through the end of the Olympics as we bring you the stories of our Military Olympians and their impressive achievements. Today we are extremeley proud to bring you the story of Army Wife Jamie Gray. In addition to winning gold and setting a new record for her near-perfect score in the last round, she also made 2012 the first year since World War II that the United States won 3 gold-medals in shooting events! 

Jamie Gray, wife of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooter Staff Sgt. Hank Gray, won an Olympic gold medal in the women’s 50-meter rifle 3-positions event Aug. 4 at the Royal Artillery Barracks here.

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program rifle coach Maj. Dave Johnson, who leads Team USA’s rifle shooters in London, coached Gray to the victory.

Gray established Olympic records in the qualification (592) and final (691.9) portions of the event, which includes shooting from prone, standing and kneeling positions.

On the next-to-last shot of the final round, Gray recorded her worst score (8.9) of the day, but she closed with her best shot (10.8) of the finale to seal the victory with a flourish.

“It was almost a little bit of relief, honestly,” said Gray, 28, of Phenix City, Ala. “I’ve dreaded that last shot for four years, and it’s amazing to have it come through and be a good shot.

“It looked good and it felt good, so it was awesome,” she added. “After shooting an 8.9 on the next-to-last shot, you want to come back from that one, and that’s what I did.”

Serbia’s Ivana Maksimovic (687.5) claimed the silver medal, and Czech Republic’s Adela Sykorova (683) took the bronze.

Gray said she realized she could secure the gold after shooting 198 in standing. She opened with a 198 in prone, and finished with a 196 kneeling.

“After I shot a 198 standing, I was like, ‘OK, here we go. This is a good one,’” she said. “The kneeling was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever shot -- 20 shots kneeling -- and I got through it great. I can’t ask for a better kneeling today. It was windy, and I had one bad shot that just got away from me in the wind.

“Other than that,” Gray continued, “I took just great shots. Every shot was a good shot. After that, I knew that’s a big one and I have a chance at this.”r

 
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