Military & Veterans News
Illinois National Guard Employees Receive Recogintion for Service to Troops PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:17

SPRINGFIELD, IL (04/06/2012)(readMedia)-- Four members of the Illinois National Guard's Family Programs were recognized for their efforts and service to the Soldiers, Airmen and military families April 4 at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.

Kathy KozaK of Glendale Heights, Anita Yakle of Jacksonville and Shirley Dilworth of Springfield received a Military Medal of Merit and Annette Chapman of Pontiac received a trophy of achievement for their display of selfless devotion and support for Illinois National Guard Family Program's mission. Their efforts enhanced operational support and ensured the program met the needs of servicemembers and their families.

Kozak served as the hub for the Illinois National Guard's Family support system at North Riverside. She successfully maintained a 99 percent contact rate for outreach calls to family members of deployed servicemembers and also serves as a primary contact for the Service Member and Family Support Services for Informal Crisis Response Team.

Yakle was the primary member of the Servicemember Readiness Program team; processing more than 10,000 Soldiers. On a daily basis she works closely with all branches, establishing professional and supportive relationships, assists Survivors and the Survivor Outreach Services Team. She supports more than 30 units, more than 3,600 servicemembers in addition to their family members.

As the Springfield Illinois Service Member and Family Support Services Military Youth Coordinator, Dilworth successfully established events to assist more than 31,000 military youth of all branches within Illinois to cope with a parent's deployment and homecoming.

Dilworth facilitated more than 45 events with a year-end total of more than 3,300 youth

attendees at events such as deployment and reunion ceremonies, formal classes for youth ages 6 to 17 on how to cope with deployments and improving the State's Annual Easter Egg Hunt. She ensures all events are both enjoyable and educational.

Chapman assisted in the pre-deployment, deployment and return of more than 3,000 servicemembers with the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and assisted their families through every step in 2008 to 2009. After that, she stepped up as the Family Readiness Assistant and finally the Senior Family Readiness Support Assistant for the Illinois National Guard Service Members and their families.

Illinois Army National Guard training drives the force PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. Jesse Houk, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 09:18

SPRINGFIELD, IL (04/06/2012)(readMedia)-- "You call, we haul," is uttered by many transportation company Soldiers throughout the state. Motor transport operators drive the force, hauling rolling stock to ammunition and other vital supplies.

The Illinois National Guard's 129th Regional Training Institute out of the Illinois Military Academy at Camp Lincoln trained 11 Soldiers from various state and Army components to be certified as motor transport operators (88M) at the Illinois State Police Training Area in Pawnee, March 18 to April 1.

The 129th operates, like many other military schools, with a crawl, walk, run course progression. The Soldiers start in the classroom learning everything from hand and arm signals to how to fill out a dispatch form.

Soldiers then move to hands-on practice backing up with a 5-ton cargo truck, a 915 with a tractor trailer and a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck with tractor trailer. They also practice driving in convoys and night vision driving.

The main emphasis of the training is to give Soldiers the skills they will need to be successful during future operations.

Illinois is one of 20 states offering a course that certifies Soldiers as 88Ms.

"The Illinois Military Academy has been described as the best Army school house in the nation," said Col. Thomas Weiss of Williamsville, the director of Training, Operations and Plans at Camp Lincoln. "It's important we support our Military Academy by enrolling in its courses before considering other sources of training."

Soldiers will receive quality training at the 88M course, the instructors said.

"The training that we put together is among the top in the country," said Sgt. 1st Class James R. Griffin of Riverton, a course manager in the 129th. "Back in July we received an accreditation from both United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and the 88M transportation proponent as an Institute of Excellence. We have had several best practices for things we have done, not just out here on the lanes, but also for our work behind the scenes."

Spc. Chris R. Rapacz of Springfield, a former gunner in an active-duty field artillery unit and now with the 724th Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit in Bartonville, said he is excited about the training he's received.

"It's great," said Rapacz. "That's why you join the Army; to do neat things. I shot some of the biggest guns in the military and now I am going to drive some of the biggest trucks. I am all around satisfied with everything about this training."

Several Soldiers from out of the state participated in the training as well.

"The quality of the training is good," said Pfc. Jason T. Snyder of Louisville, Ky., who drills with the 203rd Forward Support Company in Elizabethtown, Ky. "I am confident that I will be able to take a lot of these skills back to my unit and on a deployment if needed and will be able to utilize these skills."

In addition to being a benefit for Soldiers attending the course, the course also provides many benefits to the state of Illinois that make this the ultimate win-win scenario.

"It will help Illinois save money because Illinois is the largest National Guard transportation state in the United States," said Sgt. 1st Class Ed D. Heap of Bushnell with the 129th. "We have the most transportation companies and, with us doing our own training, we don't have to pay a different state for lodging and meals. We don't have to pay a lot to the Soldiers for traveling. It also helps Illinois National Guard Soldiers save a lot of wear and tear on their vehicles when they don't have to do a long drive."

"These skills are very applicable to real-mission scenarios," said Heap. "Overseas in theater they do have the line-haul missions. They are going to have to back up under all sorts of missions."

Several of the instructors have performed as 88Ms while in a deployment overseas and know the importance of transportation.

"An 88M is very essential to the overall mission of the Army," said Heap. "Without 88Ms units won't get their supplies. I consider 88M to be the main backbone of the Army because we haul the supplies including the food, water, fuel, ammunition. So without the 88M the Army can't run logistically."

Griffin agreed with Heap's assessment.

"I used to have a quote for the guys who would make fun of me for being a truck driver and it says that 'I may not be the pride of the Army, but without me your pride don't ride,'" said Griffin.

There is a great need for 88Ms. While there are more than 1,000 certified 88Ms in the Illinois Army National Guard, there are still 162 88M openings waiting to be filled. With that many openings new 88M Soldiers can expect a fast-tracked career and increased leadership opportunities.

Military Children Everywhere Invited to Write about Their Favorite Books for A Chance to Win Great Reading Prizes PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Stephanie Himel-Nelson   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 09:14

Blue Star Families’ Books on Bases essay contest open during April, the Month of the Military Child

Washington, D.C. (April 6, 2012)—Military families love to read! One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is the ability to read and Blue Star Families wants to know what books your military family is reading together.  During April, the month of the military child, Blue Star Families invites military kids everywhere to share their family’s favorite book for a chance to win great prizes!

“April is a great time to remember all the sacrifices that military children make when their parents serve, as well as the positive experiences of being in a military family,” said Mark Smith, executive director of Blue Star Families. “Our essay contest focuses kids and their parents on the family fun that comes from reading together, and the highlights the benefits of doing so.”

Since 1986 April has been designated the Month of the Military Child and throughout the month, Blue Star Families is hosting an essay contest for military children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Any child with a parent or sibling in active duty, Reserve or National Guard service can enter by answer the question, “What is your favorite book to read ALOUD as a family and why?”

From the 100 word or less entries, Blue Star Families will select four winners at the end of the month for prizes including a Barnes & Noble Nook, a set of 20 new books, a webcam, a certificate for a free story from Be There Bedtime Stories, and a certificate of achievement from Blue Star Families.

Added Smith, “This is a great opportunity for every military family. Reading as a family is so important, especially for military families. Plus, who wouldn’t want a free Nook?”

Each entry should be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it before 11:59 pm Eastern Time on April 28, 2012. Visit for more details and the full rules, terms, and conditions.

About Books on Bases
The Books on Bases program works positively impact the lives of military children through the power of reading.  Blue Star Families continues its mission to promote literacy among military children by providing books to military children, military base libraries, Department of Defense Schools, military impacted public schools and community libraries.

About Blue Star Families
Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, with a mission to support, connect and empower military families. In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Membership includes military spouses, children and parents as well as service members, veterans and civilians. To learn more about Blue Star Families, visit


News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Bettendorf Hy-Vee   
Friday, 06 April 2012 12:47
Bettendorf, IA -- Officials with Hy-Vee and Honor Flight of the Quad Cities will hold a news conference Monday to discuss details of the upcoming Hy-Vee Honor Flight.

Hy-Vee is providing financial support for the first Korean War Era Veterans Honor Flight, which is scheduled to take off May 22nd from Quad City International Airport in Moline with approximately 162 Korean veterans and their guardians on board. These veterans will be traveling to Washington, DC to view our nation’s monuments honoring their sacrifice and service to their country.

Please join us this Monday for an update on the Honor Flight of the Quad Cities program and be the first to hear about some of the exciting events planned in conjunction with the Hy-Vee Honor Flight.

WHAT:  Honor Flight news conference

WHEN:  Monday, April 9, 2012, 11:00am

WHERE:  Bettendorf Hy-Vee, 2900 Devils Glen Road

WHO:  Representatives from Hy-Vee, Inc., Representatives from Honor Flight of the Quad Cities, and Korean War Veterans

1644th Transportation Company Returns from Kuwait PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 15:11

Homecoming Ceremonies Planned April 5 at Rock Falls and Springfield National Guard Armories

ROCK FALLS, IL (04/03/2012)(readMedia)-- Homecoming ceremonies are scheduled for April 5 for approximately 170 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers with the 1644th Transportation Company in Rock Falls. Ceremonies will take place in Rock Falls and Springfield.

Mobilized in July 2011, the 1644th deployed to Kuwait in August in support of Operation New Dawn and Enduring Freedom.

The mission of the 1644th included hauling cargo throughout Iraq and Kuwait. The unit completed approximately 175 transportation missions in Kuwait and Iraq with no casualties. The Soldiers traveled 4.1 million miles, hauled more than 35,000 tons of cargo and transported more than 7,500 pieces of equipment to help the United States in its withdrawal from Iraq. The achievements of the 1644th resulted in 185 awards, including 28 Soldiers recommended for Bronze Stars. The 1644th also received a Unit Safety Streamer for its vigilance while deployed.

The 1644th was the last long-haul transportation convoy to leave Iraq Dec. 18, 2011 as the United States concluded operations in Iraq.

"This was a historic moment for the United States of America and the people of Iraq," said Capt. Michael Barton of Greenview, commander of the 1644th. "Just the fact that the Illinois National Guard and the 1644th played such a big part in the final convoy is very special."

The 1644th was previously mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from October 2004 to October 2005.

Media attending one of the homecoming ceremonies should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the anticipated start time. Media attending the Springfield ceremony are asked to RSVP to the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569 to be granted access onto Camp Lincoln.

Location/Time/Number of Soldiers

Rock Falls Armory; 716 6th Ave.; Rock Falls at Noon for approximately 115 Soldiers

Camp Lincoln; 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield at 8 p.m. for approximately 60 Soldiers

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