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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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Illinois National Guard Trains Soldiers to Handle Sexual Assaults PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Sgt. James Sims, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 08:16

April Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; Illinois National Guard Program Teaches Prevention While Teaching Response Techniques

SPRINGFIELD, IL (04/03/2012)(readMedia)-- In a recent episode of ABC's Private Practice, a Soldier returning from Afghanistan was forced to deal with events that occurred while he was deployed overseas. After the fictional character attempted suicide, it is evident more aggressive methods of treatment are needed to help the Soldier who is trying to cope with returning to civilian life, as well as a sexual assault that occurred overseas.

In real life, sexual assault within the ranks of the military is not a new problem. It is, however, a problem that has made it necessary for the military to conduct its own annual reporting on the crisis.

"Illinois was one of the first states to take the situation seriously and hire a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) full-time to address and implement the state's program," said Master Sgt. Christy Sipes of Rushville, who was the first SARC the Illinois National Guard hired full-time to manage the program. "It has evolved rapidly over the past five years, but the message remains that sexual assault is an important topic that commanders must address."

In 2011, there were 160 reports of sexual assault in the National Guard. In Illinois there were eight sexual assaults and two sexual harassment cases reported. Although assaults mostly occur while Soldiers are in non-duty status, victims assaulted during deployments often report the incident upon returning to their home state.

Since the inception of the sexual assault programs in 2005, the Illinois National Guard responded to 29 reported incidents of sexual assaults. Some of the incidents occurred prior to the Soldier joining or transferring in the Illinois National Guard.

"People are coming forward knowing their chain of command will have their backs," said Kim Schaefle of Warrenville, the assistant sexual assault response coordinator with the Illinois National Guard. "Sexual assault prevention has become a major priority for the Illinois National Guard."

While there are no easy ways to deal with the trauma of sexual assault, there are many resources available throughout the military, and more are being developed to insure the victim is protected and assisted in recovery.

The National Guard is in a unique position because most of the reported assaults did not take place during duty hours, therefore not providing the program any latitude for proper reporting, said Sipes. Illinois is a victim supportive state with many programs available to victims of violent crime, which is a tool that is frequently used. Illinois is fortunate to have these programs to help offset the cost of lost wages and clothing during an assault. The clothes and items become evidence and therefore the person loses them, Sipes added.

All Soldiers have to complete Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training annually. The Illinois Army National Guard is leading the nation in training compliance.

"Our main goal in this annual class is to let the Soldiers know about the reporting options that are available to them if they are a victim of sexual assault," said Sgt Maj. Diane S. Rogers of Girard, Illinois Army National Guard's SARC. "The two options are restricted and unrestricted reporting. Most do not know that they have an option."

The Illinois National Guard is a microcosm of society. Although the military is typically held to a higher standard, assaults occur in the military ranks just like they do in the civilian sector. The Illinois National Guard has made it a priority to make sure assistance is available for victims.

"We also want the Soldier to know that there is help for them if they are a victim of sexual assault," Rogers said. "The SARCs and Unit Victim Advocates and Chaplains are here for them."

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and commits to raising awareness and promoting the prevention of sexual violence through use of special events and public education.

"This is an issue that must not be limited to one month a year," Rogers said. "It is an ongoing problem that must get better and it is up to everyone in the military to make sure they are doing their part to prevent, report and support."

Photo: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Camacho, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs/ Theresa Duncan a trauma nurse specialist, sexual assault nurse examiner with St. Johns Hospital in Springfield speaks to nearly 70 Soldiers with the Illinois National Guard attending the two week Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention training Feb. 23 at Camp Lincoln in Springfield. The Soldiers met with a panel of sexual assault response experts from the Springfield 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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Illinois National Guard, Partners in Care Reach out to Clergy Groups PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 08:08

SPRINGFIELD, IL (04/03/2012)(readMedia)--


• Illinois National Guard chaplains, community clergy and the Partners in Care program


• The training is designed to raise awareness among community religious leaders about the challenges faced by servicemembers and their families, with a focus on deployment related issues such as anger management, suicide prevention, military marriages, and church and community support for the military.

• Partners in Care is a program dedicated to providing servicemembers community resources through local congregations.


Date Location Time

April 10 Joliet Armory; 2900 W. Jefferson St., Joliet 9 a.m.

April 12 Chicago Armory; 5200 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago 9 a.m.

April 17 Mount Vernon Armory; 205 7th St., Mount Vernon 9 a.m.

April 18 Elgin Armory; 254 Raymond St., Elgin 9 a.m.

April 25 Camp Lincoln Illinois Military Academy, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd., Springfield 9 a.m.


• The goal of Partners in Care is to provide military personnel with local community support in their geographical area.

• There are 72 congregations across Illinois that are part of the organization, which was started in fall 2009.

• Faith group leaders will receive pertinent information to minister, not only to military personnel, but to the community.

**All are encouraged to attend. For further information, please contact Chaplain Lambert at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 773-406-5183.

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Illinois National Guard Soldier Credits Others for Military Career PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by 1st Lt. April Hawes, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs   
Monday, 02 April 2012 08:39

Nelson Officially Retires April 30 After 27 Years of Service in ILARNG

SPRINGFIELD, IL (03/30/2012)(readMedia)-- With every military memory and mission, Col. Tracy Nelson of Springfield, is not afraid to give credit to those who have shaped him into the commissioned officer and Soldier he is today. After 27 years in the Illinois Army National Guard (ILARNG), Nelson will retire April 30.

While Nelson credits many Soldiers throughout his career, he said it is the noncommissioned officers (NCOs) who taught him the most.

It all started when he enlisted in the active component of the U.S. Army in 1975. He was just 17, grew up with five brothers and five sisters on a small Minnesota farm and needed his father's signature to serve his country. He was stationed in Germany for three years as a crewman for CH-47 Chinook helicopters that transported nuclear weapons. During this assignment, young Pvt. Nelson was introduced to a group of seasoned NCOs who served in Vietnam.

"The NCOs from Vietnam were empowered; they owned the Army," he said. "They have had the largest impact on my life...and on the rest of my career."

After his tour in Germany, Nelson decided to get out of the U.S. Army to go to college in East Peoria. He soon realized he missed the military, so a friend and ILARNG aviation Soldier convinced him to join the ILARNG and enroll in officer candidate school (OCS).

Out of his entire OCS Class that graduated in 1985, Nelson is one of only three Soldiers who still remain in the ILARNG. One of those Soldiers, Col. B.J. Mayberry of Springfield, with Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) in Springfield, was his battle buddy during OCS and vividly remembers a moment of Nelson's resiliency during training.

"On a night land navigation event he took off running, with me attempting to keep up, when all of a sudden he practically fell to his knees," Mayberry said. "I caught up only to find he had ducked under a tree and had stuck a piece of the tree in his eye and it looked like a dagger sticking out of his face. He grunted, grabbed the stick, pulled it out and yelled 'Let's go!' We ended up beating the rest of the class in that night by close to a half an hour."

Once he commissioned, Nelson started his career with 1st Battalion, 123rd Infantry Regiment. He was with the battalion until 1993 and made it to the rank of captain.

He said it was during this time that he and his fellow Soldiers enforced a standard he was familiar with while on active duty. Realistic training was a priority and the battalion initiated training that had never been done before.

"We're going to train like we're going (to war) tomorrow," Nelson said. "If we're going to be here, we're going to do it right."

The third OCS classmate who is still in the ILARNG, Col. Tom Weiss of Sherman, with JFHQ, was in the 123rd with Nelson.

"With Nelson, don't slow down or he will run you over," said Weiss. "He likes to boast, but he backs it up with action!"

In 2003, Nelson, now a lieutenant colonel, faced his first deployment. While he had never deployed, he frequently travelled across the country and the world.

He was at annual training with the 33rd Area Support Group when he was told, within days, he was deploying to Iraq. First he immediately reported to U.S Central Command in Tampa, Fla., for a two-week mission. He then returned home to Illinois on a Thursday to pack his bags and say good-bye to his family before he left Sunday morning for the year-long deployment.

Nelson said the quick turn-around was easier because it left less time for him and his family to think about it. His wife, Debbie, understood it was simply part of the job. She said she was used to him travelling but admitted an entire year to Iraq was a little different than two or three weeks across the country or the world.

"It's who we are and what we do. You accept it and move forward," she said. "It's a mental state. It's no different than going out and running a race. It's a will to win."

She said some days were easier than others but she never let their children have pity parties or feel sorry for themselves because their dad was in Iraq. At the time, their son Everett was in fifth grade and their daughter Madeline was in first grade. Nelson's daughter Kathleen, from a previous marriage, was 16.

This deployment was the first Multi-National Division (MND) deployment with the Polish Armed Forces and the ILARNG.

When he returned, he became the 108th Sustainment Brigade commander. The 108th was going through a transformation and Nelson's OCS battle buddy was by his side.

"I would say one of my most memorable training events was working with him when he (took command of) the 108th," said Mayberry. "The 108th ended up arguably the best brigade in the state. It was a lot of hard work and relentless pressure to attain excellence but in the end I wouldn't trade that transformation for any of my other military experiences."

Then in 2010, Nelson faced his second and final deployment. Again, along with a team of ILARNG Soldiers, he deployed with the Polish Armed Forces for a joint mission to Afghanistan. This mission was the deadliest deployment the Polish had experienced since World War II. Now a colonel, Nelson was even a personal target of a suicide bomber while on a mission.

"You can't stop doing your mission because you're a target," he said. "My Soldiers were a target every day."

Debbie said Everett and Madeline understood this deployment a little more since they were older and because military deployments were fairly common. She said Nelson made both deployments a little easier, too, because he kept his family and the children's school friends informed about what he was doing and where he was at.

Despite Nelson's busy career, Debbie said the two of them have always spent time together, which she knows will continue into his retirement.

"Tracy and I are best friends, so we're always together," she said.

Looking to the future, Nelson plans to spend some time coaching Madeline, who is now a freshman in high school. He also said he hopes to spend more time at the family's South Carolina home, which is where Everett is living while attending the Citadel.

Despite his future plans, he said he'll miss the Soldiers he grew up with and the ILARNG Soldiers of the next generation.

"I'll miss the Soldiers the most," he said. "There is a small core of guys who know what you have to do. It's all about leadership, which I've learned from my NCOs."


Illinois State Military Museum Houses Medals of Honor, History of Valor PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by National Guard PAO Illinois   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:05

SPRINGFIELD, IL (03/23/2012)(readMedia)-- In 2007, March 25 was established as National Medal of Honor Day, the official day that honors the servicemembers of the U.S. military whose actions of valor inspired generations and the nation.

The action performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his comrades and must have involved risk of life.

Illinois has been home to nearly 110 Medal of Honor recipients who have served in the Illinois National Guard beginning with the Civil War. Two of the original medals as well of decades of history is preserved within the walls of the Illinois Military State Museum.

There the many examples in the Illinois National Guard like 1st Sgt. Johannes S. Anderson of Finland, who entered service from Chicago, assigned the Illinois National Guard's Company B, 132nd Infantry, 33rd Division, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions at Consenvoye, France during World War I.

His citation reads "While his company was being held up by intense artillery and machinegun

fire, First Sergeant. Anderson, without aid, voluntarily left the company and worked his way to the rear of the (machinegun) nest that was offering the most stubborn resistance. His advance was made through an open area and under constant hostile fire, but the mission was successfully accomplished, and he not only silenced the gun and captured it, but also brought back with him 23 prisoners."

Civil War veteran Sgt. George F. Rebmann of Schuyler County, entered service at Browning, with Company B, 119th Illinois Infantry, he received the Medal of Honor for capturing a confederate flag April 9, 1865 during a battle at Fort Blakely, Ala.

Anderson and Rebmann are among many heroes who served in the Illinois National Guard or Militia who received the medal for valor on the battlefield. Both Anderson's and Rebmann's medals are among the many artifacts at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield detailing the Illinois National Guard's history from the Civil War to present.

While the day was made official only three years ago, the legacy of the Medal of Honor and the servicemembers who were awarded it span more than 150 years of Illinois history.

President Abraham Lincoln, a veteran of the Illinois Militia, signed a bill issuing the highest military decoration on July 12, 1862. He called it the Medal of Honor. Lincoln intended for the medal to stand as a symbol of the bravery and selflessness individual's display in combat.

The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President in the name of Congress to a person who distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty. Military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The Army regulation recognizes the incontestable proof of the performance of the service will be exacted and each recommendation for the award of this decoration will be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

The Medal of Honor is presented to those who make a major sacrifice and some who make the ultimate sacrifice. Those who were killed in action were awarded the medal posthumously.

As President George W. Bush said regarding the Medal of Honor, "Citations are also written in the most simple of language, needing no embellishment or techniques of rhetoric. They record places and names and events that describe themselves. The medal itself bears only one word and needs only one, valor."

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