Military & Veterans News
Governor Quinn Signs Law to Honor Veterans with Special License Plates PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Erin Wilson   
Friday, 10 August 2012 13:53

JOLIET, Ill.– August 10, 2012. In addition to several other laws, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law at a VFW post in Joliet to honor partially disabled veterans with special vehicle license plates. House Bill 1151 allows veterans who may not qualify for disabled license plates to still be honored for their sacrifice with a special license plate. Today's action is the latest by Governor Quinn to support veterans across Illinois.

"Our veterans who have sacrificed so much for the good of this country deserve honor and thanks," Governor Quinn said. “This new license plate will remind us of our modern-day heroes each time we see them on the road.”

Sponsored by Rep. Lawrence Walsh, Jr. (D-Joliet) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), House Bill 1151 provides that the new license plate will be issued at no cost to eligible veterans, similar to the Illinois Disabled Veteran License Plate but without the international symbol of access. The new license plate honors veterans whose disability - such as neurological disorders, hearing loss or post-traumatic stress disorder - may not entitle them to disabled parking privileges. An initiative of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, the bill is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“We cannot thank our veterans enough,” Rep. Walsh said. “The next time I see a car with a Disabled Veteran license plate, I plan to give a thumbs-up to the driver to show my appreciation.”

Governor Quinn is a long-time champion of veterans’ affairs. As State Treasurer, he launched Operation Homefront to inform National Guard members and reservists of their rights under the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act. As Lieutenant Governor, his Illinois Military Family Relief Act to aid the spouses and children of those called to active duty became a model for other states. As Governor, Quinn has visited Illinois troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Germany, and has called for the hiring of 100,000 veterans in Illinois by 2020.

The law is effective Jan. 1.

While at the VFW Post, the Governor also signed four bills sponsored by area lawmaker Rep. Emily McAsey (D-Lockport): House Bill 4636, House Bill 4662, House Bill 4663 and House Bill 5650.


Recruiting and Retention Command Holds Award Ceremony PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Friday, 10 August 2012 08:23

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/09/2012)(readMedia)-- Illinois Army National Guard recruiters from across the state with the Recruiting and Retention Command in Springfield gathered at the Illinois Military Academy at Camp Lincoln in Springfield for an awards ceremony Aug. 8.

"I wish I could give an award to everyone," said Lt. Col. Mark Alessia of Sherman, Recruiting and Retention Commander. "I appreciate everything you guys are doing."

Among the awards were the top Recruiter of the Year, which went to Staff Sgt. Daniel Neville of Plainfield with 41 enlistments for 2012 and the Rookie of the Year, which went to Sgt. 1st Class Craig Watkins of Sciota with 30 enlistments for 2012.

Other awards include:

U Can, I Did Club, which was awarded to:

• Neville

• Watkins

• Sgt. Mark Maroon of Aurora

Paul McDade Award, which was awarded to:

• Watkins

• Maroon

• Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Cerminn of Columbia

• Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Rose of Oquawka

• Staff Sgt. Lawrence Orsborn of Loves Park

• Sgt. 1st Class Levi Miller of Gays

• Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Krajefska of Salem

• Sgt. 1st Class Chad McDannald of Warrenville

• Sgt. 1st Class Carl Langs of Highland Park

• Staff Sgt. Justin Gullion of Northbrook

Commanders Top 10, which was awarded to:

• Rose with 20 enlistments

• Sgt. David Klotz of Blandinsville with 20 enlistments

• Cerminn with 21 enlistments

• Sgt. Jason Lichauer of Bloomington with 21 enlistments

• Sgt. Giuseppe Ferrioli of Belvidere with 22 enlistments

• Staff Sgt. Joseph Dixon of McLean with 22 enlistments

• Sgt. 1st Class Samer Elguindy of Elgin with 23 enlistments

• Watkins with 30 enlistments

• Maroon with 34 enlistments

• Neville with 41 enlistments

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.

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."

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.

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