Military & Veterans News
Galesburg Army National Guard Unit Mobilizes for Mission in Kuwait PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 13:34

GALESBURG, IL (02/07/2012)(readMedia)-- A deployment ceremony is scheduled for approximately 120 Soldiers who are scheduled to deploy to Kuwait this winter. The ceremony for the 444th Chemical Company will be Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. at the Galesburg National Guard Armory, 362 N. Linwood Road in Galesburg.

The Soldiers will train for a brief time at Camp Shelby, Miss. before deploying for approximately nine months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Soldiers with the 444th Chemical Company will provide base security and command cell operations. The unit will provide support for other units stationed in the area and provide sustainment and command for a Michigan-based military police task force in northern Kuwait.

The unit will be mobilized for approximately one year, returning home in early 2013.

For more information, contact the Public Affairs office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 217-761-3569.

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Sparta Training Area Prepares Soldiers for Overseas PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Spc. Dan Lograsso, Spc. Dorian Daily, Sgt. Robert Adams, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 13:19

SPARTA, IL (02/07/2012)(readMedia)-- What may look like normal semi-truck trailers are actually a portal into modern warfare giving Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers a chance to experience overseas before leaving the Midwest.

"Come to Sparta in the morning and we can take you to Iraq for lunch, Afghanistan for dinner, and have you home by bedtime," said Sgt. Edward Singletary of Sparta, range scheduling non commissioned officer at Sparta Training Area.

Singletary guided Soldiers from Company F, 634th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) in Mt. Vernon, through a new state-of-the-art training system Feb. 4. The Virtual Vehicle Trainer (VVT) is a combat simulator capable of putting over 25 Soldiers into the same massive virtual environment. Soldiers break into teams of three and man their "vehicles," – nearly identical mock-ups of a humvee interior, complete with gunner's turret – and don headsets or look into high-resolution screens to see past the trailer and into the digital world beyond.

Spc. Leo Stofferahn of Pekin with Company F, 634th BSB, a veteran of three deployments, said the simulator's terrain and movement were accurate and effective.

"The training was a good refresher for veterans and good for setting up accurate deployment expectations for new Soldiers," said Stofferahn.

Singletary controls the $3.2 million VVT, which is the most-advanced system of its kind available, from a multi-screen command station. With the push of a button, he can change the weather, the terrain (which is based on actual satellite mapping), or zoom into any part of the 3D environment. No longer are Soldiers represented by blinking dots; every image interacts in real time. The digital representation of the gunner even swivels along with the Soldier in the turret.

The software is also very flexible. While it can run preset scenarios, Singletary has the somewhat God-like ability to drop in many kinds of enemies, obstacles, helicopters or other interactive set pieces at any time.

The VVT also has a huge catalog of vehicles that it can run; almost every model of humvee, most models of the

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, unmanned drones, and even a remote-controlled reconnaissance robot, the Talon, are available.

Singletary said he believes this ability to customize is one of the biggest strengths of the VVT.

"This is the latest, greatest, most up-to-date system that we can train in," said Singletary. "We can put you into a theater-specific environment.

The control trailer also has benches and a projector, allowing units to conduct an immediate after-action review. Soldiers can watch the playback of the scenario on-screen and even hear their recorded radio traffic, allowing them to see what they did well and what needs improvement.

Sgt. 1st Class Greg Anselment of Wayne City, a platoon sergeant with Company F, 634th BSB said the real-time cooperation required by the VVT scenarios was great for exposing shortfalls in teamwork for future training. He also said it would be difficult to get this training without the VVT.

"(Individual units) don't have to have the resources," said Anselment. "We don't have up-armored vehicles, but we can still come down (to Sparta) and train."

In addition to the Virtual Vehicle Trainer, Sparta has virtual marksmanship training for rifles, machine guns and mortars, paintball gear for live maneuvers, and roughly 2,300 acres of open land available for field training exercises.

Photo 1: Photo by Spc. Dan LoGrasso, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Spc. Marty Melton of Sandoval (front), Spc. Justin Russell of Cypress (middle) and Sgt. Jeffrey Blevins of Fairfield (rear) – all truck drivers from Company F, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Mt. Vernon "ride" in a convoy inside Sparta Training Area's new combat simulator, the Virtual Vehicle Trainer (VVT). Inside the VVT, over 25 Soldiers don headsets or look into high-resolution screens to see through the building into the digital battleground beyond.

Photo 2: Photo by Spc. Dan LoGrasso, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Staff Sgt. James Stanfield with Company F, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Mt. Vernon, mans the turret in Sparta Training Area's new Virtual Vehicle Simulator (VVT), a state-of-the-art combat simulator capable of putting over 25 Soldiers into the same massive virtual environment. The VVT allows Stanfield to see into a custom-made scenario (his view is shown on the screen behind him) while still operating realistic equipment like vehicle controls and mock machine guns.

Photo 3: Photo by Spc. Dan LoGrasso, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Sgt. Edward Singletary of Sparta, range scheduling non commissioned officer (top-right) and Sgt. John Morgan of Pinckneyville, range control support (bottom-left) watch a virtual convoy on-screen at their command station inside the Virtual Vehicle Trainer (VVT) in Sparta Training Area. The VVT is a new state-of-the-art combat simulator capable of putting over 25 Soldiers into the same massive virtual environment.

Photo 4: Photo by Spc. Dan LoGrasso, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Inside these customized semi-trailers in Sparta Training Area sits the Virtual Vehicle Trainer- a new state-of-the-art combat simulator capable of putting over 25 Soldiers into the same massive virtual environment. "Come to Sparta in the morning and we can take you to Iraq for lunch, Afghanistan for dinner, and have you home by bedtime." said Sgt. Edward Singletary of Sparta, range scheduling non commissioned officer at Sparta Training Area.

For high resolution photos, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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MULTIMEDIA: Iowans Testify before House Veterans Panel PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 06 February 2012 08:47

Braley is the highest-ranking Democrat on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity 

Washington, DC – This morning, at the request of Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01), two Iowans testified before the US House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity about lowering the rate of unemployment for the National Guard.  Braley is the highest-ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.

Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Timothy Orr joined Dick Rue, the state chair of the Iowa Employer Support for Guard and Reserve (ESGR), to testify about their experience helping veterans return to work when they come home from a deployment.

Last October, Braley brought the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity to Waterloo for a field hearing on veterans’ job creation.

High-resolution photos of the hearing can be downloaded here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/repbraley/sets/72157629146584591/

High-resolution video of highlights from the hearing can be downloaded here: http://www.mydigitalmanager.com/index.php?a=ViewItem&i=3228

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Never Forgotten: 570 Photos of Iowa Vietnam War Heroes Still Needed PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Lee Allen   
Friday, 03 February 2012 15:25
Photos of Vietnam Heroes Needed for Inclusion in The Education Center at The Wall in Washington, D.C.

Washington, DC – The people of the state of Iowa suffered greatly in the Vietnam War, sacrificing 853 service-men and women in combat. The Vietnam Memorial Fund’s (VVMF) mission to honor these heroes continues with the National Call for Photos, a movement to collect photos of the more than 58,000 service-members inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, DC. When collected, all photos will be displayed for generations to come at The Education Center at The Wall, a place on our National Mall where our military heroes' stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

With the support of schools, volunteers, friends, and family from around the country, VVMF has collected more than 25,000 pictures to date, but only 283 from the state of Iowa.

The task is far from complete. Generous support from volunteers, fellow service-members, family, and friends is still needed in order to gather the remaining 570 photos necessary to honor our heroes from Iowa for display at The Education Center.

With a groundbreaking planned for November 2012, The Education Center at The Wall is a multi-million dollar, state-of- the-art visitor’s center and learning facility to be built on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans and the Lincoln Memorials. Visitors will better understand the profound impact the Vietnam War had their friends and family members, their home towns, and the Nation. The Education Center will feature the faces and stories of the 58,272 men and women on “The Wall,” honoring those who fell in Vietnam, those who fought and returned, as well as the friends and families of all who served. For more information, visit www.buildthecenter.org.

“Iowa suffered greatly in the Vietnam War,” said Jan C. Scruggs, Founder and President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF).  “The Education Center at The Wall will allow Americans to put faces with the names of brave men and women who lost their lives, fostering their appreciation and respect for generations to come.”

VVMF urges the citizens of Iowa to assist the National Call for Photos by submitting photographs of fallen service-members and generously supporting the Education Center, ensuring that the sacrifices of our military heroes are never forgotten.


About the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (www.vvmf.org) is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War.

Authorized by Congress, its most recent initiative is building the Education Center at The Wall, an underground facility near the Memorial that will help visitors discover the stories of those named on The Wall and celebrate the values embodied by all service members who served in all of America’s wars.

Other Memorial Fund initiatives include educational programs for students and teachers, as well as a traveling Wall replica that honors our nation's veterans.

Support the Education Center at The Wall by visiting www.buildthecenter.org, calling 866-990-WALL, or by texting "WALL" to 2022.

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126th Security Forces Squadron wins Air Force Outstanding Unit Award PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Maj. Jennifer C. Howsare, 126th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs Officer   
Friday, 03 February 2012 15:00

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILL. (02/01/2012)(readMedia)-- The 126th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) at Scott Air Force Base was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service from Aug. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2011.

During this period, the 126 SFS provided global coverage to continue the war fighting effort. Through numerous deployments and home-station efforts, the squadron embodied the Total Force concept.

"Our Security Forces Squadron continues to perform in an outstanding fashion," said Col. Rick Nyalka, of Marine, 126th Mission Support Group Commander. "Whether it is at Scott Air Force Base or while deployed, they always perform at the highest levels. I am very proud of our Security Forces members. They have demonstrated that they are truly deserving of this prestigious award!"

Members also served as true citizen-Airmen by volunteering countless hours in both local and deployed communities. In addition, squadron members were recognized with awards for home-station and deployment excellence.

"I could not be more proud of the men and women of the 126th Security Forces Squadron," said Lt. Col. John Bryk, of Mokena, 126th Security Forces Squadron Commander. "This is the finest group of non-commissioned officers and Airmen that I have had the opportunity to serve with during my 28-year career in the Air National Guard. The dedication and commitment they display on a daily basis is amazing."

In addition to deployments and community support, the squadron was recognized during each of its most recent compliance and readiness inspections. The squadron received an excellent rating with zero findings during the Aug. 2009 Air Mobility Command Unit Compliance Inspection. Additionally, the squadron was most recently rated outstanding for providing flawless security during a June 2011 Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection.

The Air Force Outstanding Unit Award was authorized by Department of the Air Force General Order 1, Jan. 6, 1954. It is awarded by the Secretary of the Air Force to units which are distinguished by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units.

The services include: performance of exceptionally meritorious service, accomplishment of a specific outstanding achievement of national or international significance, combat operations against an armed enemy of the United States, or military operations involving conflict with or exposure to hostile actions by an opposing foreign force.

 
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