Military & Veterans News
404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Declares Soldier, NCO of the Year PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sgt. John Stimac, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs   
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 11:56

CHICAGO, IL (08/22/2012)(readMedia)-- The 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) in Chicago, declared its Soldier and Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year following a three-day competition Aug. 17 to 19 at the Marseilles Training Center in Marseilles.

The Soldiers and NCOs representing battalions throughout the 404th competed in events that tested mental and physical readiness, Army knowledge and Soldier skills.

Spc. Christopher Bakeman of West Chicago, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade took the title of the 404th's Soldier of the Year.

Staff Sgt. Adam Therriault of Ottawa, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 766th Engineers Battalion in Decatur, won the 404th's NCO of the Year.

Bakeman and Therriault will go on to compete for the Illinois National Guard's Soldier and NCO of the Year competitions Sept. 13 to 16 at Marseilles Training Center in Marseilles.

Bakeman said he was honored to represent the 404th MEB in the competition.

"I had a month and a half to study, prepare and train," said Bakeman.

He said there was some great competition.

Therriault said he enjoyed the competition, but said he knows he needs to work on a few things in order to do well in the state competition.

"I definitely need to improve in my land navigation and weapons qualification, so those are the things I will be working on for the next few weeks," said Therriault.

Command Sgt. Major Jerry Clements, senior enlisted adviser of the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade thanked all the participants for taking the time to participate in this event and said no matter if they won or not, it was an experience that will make them a better Soldier.

"I know the winners will do a great job in the state competition and will make the brigade proud," said Clements.

Illinois National Guard Soldiers Find Unexploded Ordnance in Kuwait PDF Print E-mail
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Written by U.S. Army Spc. Pamela Peigler, 444th Chemical Company   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:11

CAMP VIRGINIA, KUWAIT (08/20/2012)(readMedia)-- Explosions have become frequent occurrences for the Soldiers stationed in and around Camp Virginia, Kuwait. Fortunately, these explosions are actually the result of the Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team (EOD) which disposes a variety of unexploded ordnance (UXO) under controlled conditions.

These threats are identified by the Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers of the quick reaction force (QRF) platoon with 444th Chemical Company in Galesburg. While the primary mission of the platoon is camp security, they are also prepared to recognize and react to a wide variety of ordnance. If an item is identified while on patrol, the QRF provides security of the site until EOD assets can arrive on scene and dispose of the threat.

Since the QRF arrived at Camp Virginia in April, the platoon has identified more than 60 individual pieces of UXO during patrols. The QRF has been locating remnants of Operation Desert Storm, a conflict fought more than 20 years ago.

"Soldier safety is the most important aspect of our operation," said Staff Sgt. Andrews Kolakowski of Bethalto, a squad leader with the QRF platoon. "The platoon has been well trained and I'm confident in their ability to perform their assigned mission and react to potential threats such as these here in Kuwait."

Kuwait has long been known for its petroleum reserves. The combination of petroleum and territory disputes influenced the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and subsequent involvement of U.S. forces in 1990 to 1991. During that timeframe, a large variety of weapons were utilized by both sides in an attempt to gain control.

"The terrain in this area is very soft, and most of the ordnance we have found failed to detonate on impact," said Spc. Travis Grinter of O'Fallon.

The QRF has been finding rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, cluster sub munitions, and various anti-personnel and anti-tank munitions, which were all types used during Desert Storm.

"The high winds and sandstorms constantly change the lay of the land. As the sand turns over, some of the old ordnance is exposed," said Spc. Joseph Christy, of Cuba. "You have to be on your game and constantly aware of your surroundings."

The QRF will continue to do its mission and be vigilant while out on patrols.

"I am very proud of their accomplishments and development as a team," said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Roth of Bloomington, QRF platoon sergeant. "All but a few members of this platoon have volunteered for this mission and hail from other units within the state of Illinois, and I think that speaks volumes about the character of the Soldiers we have here."

Illinois National Guard Agribusiness Development Team Recognized for Afghanistan Deployment PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Friday, 17 August 2012 13:42

Freedom Salute Planned Aug. 18 for Specialized Group Who Helped Improve Afghan Farming

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/15/2012)(readMedia)-- Approximately 60 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers will be recognized Aug. 18 by the National Guard Bureau Freedom Salute Campaign for their sacrifice and service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ceremony for 1st Team of the 14th Agribusiness Development Team (1-14th ADT) will be at 2 the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 South Sixth Street in Springfield.

"With Illinois producing more than $9 billion in agricultural commodities each year, there are no people in the world that know the business of agricultural like our Illinois farmers," said Gov. Pat Quinn. "I'm proud that this group of Illinois farmers donned their military uniforms and put their civilian skills to use in our nation's defense. The knowledge they passed on to Afghans will help a fledgling democracy secure a viable and peaceful future for its citizens and will help cap the discord that leads to disillusionment and terrorism."

Mobilized in April 2011, the ADT deployed for one year to conduct agricultural support operations in Afghanistan that revitalized and established a strong, growing and sustainable agricultural industry. The team provided basic agricultural needs and services working alongside the Afghan government agriculture agencies. They also taught and trained Afghan Extension Agents and farmers.

"When the Illinois National Guard sends men and women to war, we are sending the most motivated and the best trained and best equipped troops in the world," said Maj. Gen. Dennis L. Celletti, the Acting Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "This was certainly true of the 1-14th Agribusiness Development Team, where both their military and civilian skills were put to the test."

The team improved irrigation to more than 4,100 hectares of farmland. They also developed a functional Agricultural Extension Agent Program and hosted 34 training events. The ADT modernized Afghan farming techniques.

The ADT conducted 240 convoys, facilitated 5,145 farmer training days, trained 2,960 famers through Agriculture Extension Agents and assisted with forestry projects resulting in more than 60,000 seedlings being planted.

The ADT received the Meritorious Unit Citation and Valorous Unit citation. Thirteen Soldiers received a Bronze Star Medal, one Soldier received a Purple Heart Medal, 45 Soldiers were recognized with Army Commendation Medals and 58 Soldiers qualified for the Combat Action Badge.

The Soldiers are from all parts of Illinois. Many of them were specifically chosen for the mission based on their education and civilian background in agriculture.

Agriculture in Afghanistan accounts for 31 percent of the Afghan Gross Domestic Product and employs 78 percent of the over 30 million people in the country. National Guard ADTs work to improve the function of Afghan governmental agencies that are needed to sustain a viable agriculture sector and to educate and train Afghan farmers in modern agricultural methods and techniques. The changes will improve the quality of life and provide economic stability in the region.

The Freedom Salute Campaign program is a small way to show these patriotic citizen-Soldiers, their families and employers how much their sacrifice is appreciated. On behalf of the National Guard Bureau, the Illinois Army National Guard will present each eligible Soldier with an encased American flag, as well as a sequentially-numbered commemorative coin, certificate of appreciation and lapel pin. Families will also receive items recognizing their support and sacrifice. The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. It is designed to publicly acknowledge Army National Guard Soldiers and those who supported them while deployed.

News media attending the ceremony should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. Media attending the event are asked to contact the Public Affairs office at 217-761-3569 by 3 p.m. on Aug. 15. For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.

News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Move America Forward   
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:47

Attacks by radical Islamist Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters yesterday are a stark reminder that our troops are fighting terrorists who are truly deranged and care nothing for the lives of innocents.

In the deadliest day of attacks this year, insurgents and terrorists killed at least 38 innocent people and injured over 100 others civilians.

Our troops are fighting an enemy who will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals, spread their radical view of Islam around the world and destroy our country and our way of life that they despise so much.

But our troops are standing in their way! Send a care package of support to our brave troops serving overseas and help put a stop to the terrorists and their plots to kill Americans and our allies.

Islamist suicide bombers targeted markets crowded with Ramadan shoppers and a major provincial hospital in Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 38 people and wounding close to 100.

The bloodshed underscored a surge in fighting ahead of a withdrawal by most Western combat troops and handover to Afghan forces winding up in 2014. NATO-led forces have been struggling to eliminate Taliban insurgent bastions, especially in the east.

Suicide bombings in markets in the southwest province of Nimroz killed at least 28 people - 18 of them civilians and three policemen - and wounded over 70, police said, in the deadliest day of violence in the normally peaceful region since 2001.

Women and children and at least three members of the Afghan security forces were among the dead in Zaranj, the capital of the largely rural province, which lies on Afghanistan's western border with Iran.

Another bomber blew himself up in front of Zaranj hospital, while two others detonated explosive vests in other areas of the city, killing mostly civilians, President Hamid Karzai's office said in a statement.

The toll in Zaranj was expected to rise, provincial governor Abdul Karim Barahawi said. "The attackers blew themselves up in crowded markets to target civilians. There was no government installation nearby," Barahawi said.

Another 10 civilians were killed and 28 injured when a bomb went off in a bazaar in Dashte Archi district in the northern province of Kunduz, district Governor Sheikh Sadruddin said.

- Reuters

Illinois National Soldier Learns Culinary Skills in Botswana PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Staff Sgt. Jaime L. Witt, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 15:11

THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE (08/14/2012)(readMedia)-- The stir-fry sizzled on the grill, filling the room with the aroma of warm beef, vegetables and spices, as Spc. Lenette Tidwell of Chicago, flipped the meat with a large metal spatula.

"You're my best friend for life!" she said excitedly to the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) Head Chef Sgt. Gabobotswe Segosebe.

Tidwell, an administrative specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (HHD), 405th Brigade Support Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard out of North Riverside, Ill., was selected to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cook local African cuisine with the BDF chefs Aug. 12 during Southern Accord 2012 (SA12).

SA12 is a joint exercise in which U.S. military forces come together with the BDF to enhance military capabilities and interoperability through humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping operations and aeromedical evacuation.

The cooks from the 405th worked with the BDF for the last week and a half, providing warm meals to the 1,400 troops on the ground by way of military mobile kitchens. However, Tidwell was able to work with BDF chefs in their kitchen, cooking a recipe of beef stew and fried chicken with rice and maize meal.

Staff Sgt. Martin Fruchtl of Springfield, Ill., mess section sergeant with HHD, 405th, said the leadership chose Tidwell to give her an opportunity to hone her civilian skills. Tidwell is pursuing a certificate in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, which she should complete in the spring of next year. She is also planning to transition to the mess section at HHD, 405th.

"When the sergeant told me I'd be over here working with the BDF and seeing how they cook, it made me very excited," she said.

Tidwell helped clean the kitchen, prepare ingredients for the soup and help fry the chicken. She said placing the chicken in the oil was her favorite part.

Tidwell said she learned how the BDF work well with only basic ingredients. She said she enjoys how light and healthy the food is. Tidwell also said she especially likes the type of seasoning they use and the white rice.

BDF Chef, Staff Sgt. Moses Ramatlhape, said the goal of having Tidwell experience the food preparation was to exchange knowledge on equipment and learn how the BDF prepare a meal.

Tidwell said she appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the way the BDF cook, and she learned a lot about the culture of the BDF Soldiers. She said she will take back some of the skills the BDF chefs taught her including cutting techniques and some of the recipes.

"This was a good experience and a tasty one too," she said.


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