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Illinois Airman Earns Guard Bureau's Noncommissoned Officer of the Year PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sgt. Charles Helmholt   
Friday, 23 March 2012 12:46

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE , IL (03/21/2012)(readMedia)-- There may not be one perfect Guardsman in the United States, but there is one Illinois Guardsman who was recognized as the best noncommissioned officer (NCO) in the country by the National Guard Bureau.

Illinois Air National Guardsman Tech. Sgt. Jacob Curtis of Fairview Heights, with the 126th Security Forces Squadron at Scott Air Force Base was recently named the 2011 NCO of the Year for the entire National Guard.

Curtis discovered he won this award March 16 with a direct phone call from Maj . Gen. Willaim L. Enyart of Belleville, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, who congratulated him on his nationally recognized award.

"It was so surreal at first," said Curtis. "It felt like my head was floating."

He won the highest national achievement the National Guard has to offer and now is in the running to be one of 12 Air Force-wide Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Curtis won the NCO of the Quarter, third quarter 2011, Squadron NCO of the Year in 2008 and 2011, Mission Support Group NCO of the Year 2011, 126th Wing NCO of the Year 2011, and finally NCO of the year for the Air National Guard 2011.

"Technical Sgt. Jacob Curtis is a gifted and giving professional and is most deserving of this crowning achievement," said Col. Peter Nezamis of Belleville, commander of the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Force Base. "Technical Sgt. Curtis and his family have endured long and painful separations countless times in support of overseas operations. I couldn't be more pleased with the honor of having Tech. Sgt. Curtis and his family represent the 126th Air Refueling Wing as an Air National Guard Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year."

Curtis is the noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of the plans section for the Illinois Air National Guard's 126th Security Forces Squadron. He is also the information security officer and client support administrator, all while performing his primary job as a security forces officer.

"He is a go-getter," said Tech. Sgt. Salvador Silva of Belleville, the 126th Security Forces' acting first sergeant. "He wants to be a part of everything and always wants more responsibility; this shows in his job here, and with his level of education."

Curtis grew up a military child. His father James retired as a lieutenant colonel at Scott AFB and has called southern Illinois home since he was 15. He attended high school in O'Fallon.

Staff Sgt. Steven J. Ask of Shiloh, NCOIC of combat arms for the 126th has known Curtis since high school, and now serves in the same unit with him.

"I've really gotten to know him since joining the unit," said Ask. "He is one of the first people I call if I need something here, and one of the few people I feel I can talk to about anything. His work ethic is above and beyond most other peoples. He completely looks after others, his troops, his friends, even if he didn't know the person he would look out for them."

Perhaps this quality might best be justified from an event that took place on Curtis' recent deployment to Afghanistan.

While serving as the battle NCO at the Joint Defense Operations Center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, a nearby building was hit by indirect enemy rocket fire. The blast killed two local nationals and wounded three. In addition, two Airmen were also injured.

Noticing the closest Airmen to the blast had to retain security along the base's wall to guard against a follow up attack, Curtis sprang into action. He was among the first to reach the building and found one of the wounded Airman. The Airman had a broken leg that had lacerated his femoral artery.

Curtis administered aid by tying a tourniquet around the downed Airman's leg to help stop the bleeding, and waited to help carry him out until emergency medical technicians arrived. He was awarded a certificate of appreciation for his actions that day.

Curtis insists his entire unit should receive this award and that he just embodies his unit's commitment to excellence. And, although it may be true there are many great Airmen like Curtis, he has more than proven himself for this award to his peers, his friends and his superiors.

"We are all extremely proud of him," said Ask. "Having him here serves as an example of what a person in the Guard can achieve and he inspires us to strive for that level of achievement."

Curtis said he looks forward to his career and new challenges.

"I hope to continue on my career path and try to stay at this level of achievement. I'm at the top right now so it'll be a challenge, but a challenge I'm definitely looking forward to taking on," he said.

Illinois National Guard Soldiers Officially Welcomed Home, Fallen Hero Remembered PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sgt. Michael Camacho, 108th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs   
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 12:08

PEORIA (03/17/2012)(readMedia)-- Approximately 75 Soldiers with 709th Area Support Medical Company (ASMC) in Peoria were recognized March 17 at Illinois Army National Guard armory in Peoria at their Freedom Salute ceremony honoring their sacrifice and service.

The 709th was mobilized in January in support of Operation New Dawn and came home in November. The 709th provided medical care to more than 14,000 U.S. and coalition servicemembers in Iraq.

As a National Guard unit tasked with a unique mission, the 709th received recognition from active duty counterparts and exceeding other units in overall performance and operations said Maj. Dennis McWherter of Chicago, the 709th's company commander.

Operating out of the Sgt. Ivory Phipps Troops Medical Clinic the 709th was the last primary care medical unit on Joint Base Balad, successfully ending medical operations on the base and transitioning operations to the Iraqi government. As the clinic closed its doors, the 709th brought back the memorial plaque that hung in the clinic honoring Staff Sgt. Ivory Phipps of Chicago, an Illinois Army National Guard Soldier who died in Iraq in 2004. He was posthumously promoted to staff sergeant.

Phipps was assigned to the Paris-based 1544th Transportation Company when he was killed in Iraq on March 17, 2004, said Brig. Gen. Robert Pratt, the director of the Joint Staff from the Illinois National Guard. In 2006 the 710th ASMC from North Riverside opened the Cobra Clinic in Balad, the Illinois unit would later begin the process to rename the clinic after Phipps. In 2008 the 206th ASMC of the Missouri National Guard officially renamed the clinic.

The original plaque was given to Phipps' son, Elijah Phipps, 8, accompanied by his mother received the plaque honoring his father.

"I felt proud," said Elijah, "because he did a great job serving the country. He made a great sacrifice."

The unit felt it was only right to give the original plaque to Phipps' son, said McWherter.

"Too often a fallen Soldiers' story is not recorded for their children," he said. "Elijah doesn't have his father to tell his stories. We wanted to give Elijah something to remember his father, something that shows our respect for him and his sacrifice."

Two replicas were made, one given to the 710th ASMC having opened and named the clinic and the other given to the 709th ASMC closing the clinic five years later.

"As Soldiers we will honor our fallen and remember them as they were in life, friends, Soldiers, leaders and truly, truly heroes," said Pratt.

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Illinois Guardsmen Place in 2012 U.s. Army Small Arms Championship PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Story by Capt. Dustin Cammack, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs   
Monday, 19 March 2012 14:38
CHICAGO (03/14/2012)(readMedia)-- The Illinois Army National Guard's Small Arms Team competed in the 2012 U.S. All Army Small Arms Championship at Fort Benning, Ga., Mar. 1 to 10.

The five member team placed 8th out of 335 competitors – 55 teams total – and was the 4th ranked Army National Guard Team in the competition. The team took 1st place overall in the Rifle Team championship, and earned a total of 14 top three placements.

"As a team, this year's competition was not as dramatic as last year, but we did very well in the individual competitions," said team member Sgt. First Class David Perdew of Astoria.

Among the multiple awards the Illinois team won, two awards standout in distinction. Staff Sgt. Tracy Mix of Marseilles earned the Distinguished Rifle Shot Badge, while Sgt. First Class Perdew earned the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge. Perdew also earned the Silver Excellence in Rifle Competition Badge.

"The Distinguished Rifleman Badge was established in 1887, and the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge in 1903," said Perdew. "Only about 1600 servicemembers have either of them – it is a very distinguished and sought after award."

The awards are presented to individuals who have earned 30 credit points while firing a service rifle or a service pistol in qualifying Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) matches. Having precedence above the standard qualification badges, these awards are the most coveted marksmanship badges that can be earned and worn on a military uniform.

The competition is open to Soldiers of any rank and formation across the Army, including West Point and ROTC cadets, Army Reservists and National Guardsmen.

During the week-long event, servicemen and women fire military issued M-16/M-4 rifles at distances between 25 and 500 yards, and the M-9 pistol between seven and 35 yards on a variety of courses. They also compete in a combined-arms match – employing the rifle, pistol and shotgun in a number of different stages of fire.

The Illinois Team is comprised of Sgt Terry Pody of Machesney Park (Team Coach), Chief Warrant Officer (2) Ryan Landon of Creal Springs, Staff Sgt. Tracy Mix of Marseilles, Sgt. First Class David Perdew of Astoria, and Sgt. Jeffrey Bugger of Athens.

Complete team results – Sgt. First Class David Perdew, HHD 44th Chem. Bn, Macomb: 1st Place U.S. Army Overall Small Arms Individual Champion, Open Class; 1st Place U.S. Army Service Pistol Champion, Open Class; 3rd Place U.S. Army Service Rifle Champion, Open Class; 2nd Place Match 1 (Pistol), Open Class; 1st Place, Match 3 (Pistol), Open Class; 2nd Place, Match 8 (Rifle), Open Class; 8 Pistol EIC Points, earning the Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge; 8 Rifle EIC Points, earning the Silver EIC Badge.

Staff Sgt. Tracy Mix, Co. A 33rd BSTB, Marseilles: 3rd Place U.S. Army Overall Small Arms Individual Champion, Open Class; 3rd Place U.S. Army Service Pistol Champion, Open Class; 1st Place U.S. Army Service Rifle Champion, Open Class; 1st Place, Match 5 (Pistol) Open Class; 1st Place, Match 7, (Rifle) Open Class; 8 Rifle EIC Points, earning the Distinguished Rifle Shot Badge;6 Pistol EIC Points.

Chief Warrant Officer (2) Ryan Landon, 3637th FSMC, Springfield: 1st Place Match 7 (Rifle), Novice Class; 6th Place U.S. Army Service Rifle Championship, Novice Class; 8 Rifle EIC Points.

Sgt. Jeffrey Bugger, 1844th Trans. Co., Quincy: 2nd Place, Match 1 (Pistol) Novice Class; 3rd Place, Match 5 (Pistol) Novice Class; 4th Place U.S. Army Service Pistol Championship, Novice Class; 8 Pistol EIC Points.

Sgt Terry Pody (Team Coach), 135th Chem. Co., Machesney Park: 6 Rifle EIC Points.

Schilling Presents Area Hero with Combat Action Badge PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Monday, 19 March 2012 12:12

Moline, Illinois – Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) today presented constituent Mark Graves of Aledo with the Combat Action Badge for his service with the United States Army Military Police in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It is truly an honor to be presenting the Combat Action Badge to one of our area’s distinguished war heroes,” Schilling said.  “My deepest gratitude goes out to Mark for his service in safeguarding our nation and protecting our freedoms.”

Graves entered Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at the United States Army Military Police School in July 1999.  After finishing training with the United States Army Military Police, he deployed to Iraq and served with the 64th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade from March 2003-2004.

During his time in Iraq serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Graves’ Military Police unit was engaged in some of the most hazardous duty in Iraq, including convoy escorts, manning check-points frequently attacked by insurgents, town, and village patrols, road security to prevent improvised explosive devices from being planted, and the processing of prisoners of War.  His unit was frequently assigned to support various infantry units on operations throughout Iraq, from Baghdad to Tikrit, and was involved in at least seven combat engagements with anti-coalition forces.  During one engagement, Graves’ High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, or Humvee) took a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade.

During Graves’ service he was awarded the Joint Services Achievement Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; and the Overseas Service Ribbon.  The one award that eluded him was the Combat Action Badge, which is awarded to soldiers who personally engage or are engaged by the enemy.

Schilling’s staff started on this case in early August, 2011 when Graves reached out upon receiving a mailer on services Schilling’s staff provides.  After tracking down the necessary documentation, staff was able to meet the Army’s Combat Action Badge requirements by early January, 2012.

“Constituent casework is the most important part of my job and we will continue to work tirelessly towards successful outcomes,” Schilling said.  “I encourage anyone having issues navigating federal agencies to contact my offices – we’re happy to help.”

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Schilling, Davis, Altmire Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Equal Pay for Wounded Reservists PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Monday, 19 March 2012 11:19

Washington, DC – Congressmen Bobby Schilling (IL-17), Geoff Davis (KY-04) and Jason Altmire (PA-04) today introduced the Citizen Soldier Equality Act, bipartisan legislation to correct compensation discrepancies for Reservists hurt in the line of duty and awarded the Purple Heart.  Under current formulas, these Reservists face an inequity in their disability when they are wounded in action.    

The Citizen Soldier Equality Act will fix this oversight, correcting the formula so “Years of Service” would equal their full years of service when the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) considers their disability pay.  This change in language simply eliminates the inequality between active and reserve personnel for disability retirement pay for those who are wounded while protecting our country.

“You can tell a lot about a country in how it takes care of its war heroes,” Congressman Schilling said. “When warfighters are hurt in the line of duty, they should be compensated regardless of enlistment status.  At a time when we are going to be reducing troop numbers and relying more on our Reserve, we must provide the correct compensation for those citizen soldiers who are wounded in the line of duty.  I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan effort with Congressmen Davis and Altmire and thank them for their hard work over the years in support of our war heroes.”

“I have worked for several years to resolve this inequity, and I am grateful to Congressman Schilling for his willingness to continue the cause,” said Congressman Davis. “A bullet does not discriminate between an active and a reserve service member, and neither should we.  We owe it to our wounded reservists that their disability retirement pay is calculated the same way it is for active members of the military.”

“When I look at the faces of the brave men and women who were wounded defending their country, the first question that I ask myself is how can we ever begin to repay them, not whether they have active or reserve status,” Congressman Altmire said. “This legislation removes an inequality among our military members and provides the support they will need to succeed after bravely serving their country.  With thousands of servicemen and women returning home, we should give this bipartisan legislation immediate consideration on the House floor.”

Disability retirement pay is calculated by one of two formulas, one of which contains “Years of Service.” “Years of Service” roughly equals total Duty Days divided by 365.   As an example of the inequality, a Staff Sergeant with 13 calendar years of reserve service but only 4 years of active service based on “Total Duty Days” gets about 8 percent less disability retirement pay than an active duty soldier.  A lifetime delta of 8 percent can significantly impact the Reservists’ standard of living.  To further illustrate, two personnel – one an active duty solder, one a Reservist – with identical disabilities incurred in the same conflict receive a different disability retirement benefit, with the Reservist coming up short.

The Citizen Soldier Inequality Act would eliminate the inequality between active and reserve personnel outlined above with regard to the calculation of disability retirement pay for service members wounded in action.

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