Military & Veterans News
Camp Wright Servicemembers Honor Fallen Comrade, Remember 9/11 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by readMedia   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:23

Soldiers from Riverton, Villa Park Among Those Observing Solemn Day in Afghanistan

KUNAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN (09/16/2011)(readMedia)-- Servicemembers at Camp Wright in Kunar Province spent a solemn day commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and celebrating the life of a fallen comrade Sept. 11.

Members of the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), the Illinois National Guard's 1-14th Illinois Agribusiness Development Team, the 102nd Forward Surgical Team and the 744th Engineer Company, Route Clearance Patrol 46 were among the military units participating in the day's events.

At 23 years old, U.S. Army Spc. John Cowgill, of Riverton, a security force member for the 1-14th Illinois Agribusiness Development Team.

Those events of a decade ago had a deep impact on who he is and on the direction his life has taken.

"Ten years ago I never thought I would be spending this day in Afghanistan," said Cowgill. "I still feel anger over what happened, but I've learned that anger can be channeled toward helping people and making a difference. That is what I see today and that is what makes me proud to be here."

A ceremony at the Camp Wright dining facility began the day of remembrance. Two members of the Kunar PRT, who were in New York on the day of the terrorist attacks, shared their experiences with those who had gathered.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Darlene Croston, of Binghamton, N.Y., an administrative specialist with the Kunar PRT, was working in New York as a nanny for a member of the New York Fire Department who was killed that day.

Croston said sharing those experiences was an important part of the occasion.

"Ten years [later], it might be easy to forget why we are here," she said. "Just as with any loss, time dulls the pain. It is important that we remember our goals so this country does not become an incubator for that type of terrorism again."

The ceremony concluded as an American flag, which was previously flown aboard the USS New York, was passed solemnly between enlisted servicemembers representing different units and branches of service.

The Cpl. Raphael Arruda Fitness Center in Afghanistan was dedicated during a separate ceremony later in the day.

U.S. Army Cpl. Raphael Arruda, of South Ogden, Utah, a combat engineer with the 744th Engineer Company, Route Clearance Patrol 46, was killed when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device during a combat patrol June 16.

Members of the 744th spoke of Arruda's love of physical fitness and said the dedication was a fitting tribute to the Soldier who grew up in Brazil and had recently received his U.S. citizenship.

U.S. Army Spc. Jonathan Hansen, of Layton, Utah, an operations specialist with the 744th, said his entire unit was behind the idea of the dedication.

"It started off as one person's idea, but everyone pitched in and it became a group effort," said Hansen. "All those who served with him will be happy to know his legacy is living on after we are gone. He would be very happy about this, but he would also be humbled. He would consider it a great honor."

A plaque bearing Arruda's name and the words "let's get swole" - a phrase he used to get others into the gym - was unveiled during the ceremony.

When night fell, residents of Camp Wright took to rooftops and high ground for an unobstructed view of the clear night sky. As illumination rounds lit the mountainside, someone spoke of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the ensuing War on Terrorism.

While many of the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of Camp Wright were well into their military careers on Sept. 11, 2001, others were just beginning their careers as junior-high students.

 
Illinois National Guard Infantry Soldiers Honor the Heroes of Baatan PDF Print E-mail
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Written by readMedia   
Friday, 16 September 2011 13:33

Story U.s. Army Spc. Christopher A. Garibay, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

MAYWOOD (09/12/2011)(readMedia)-- Soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), including Col. Paul C. Hastings of St. Charles, commander of the 33rd IBCT, honored Soldiers who fought in the Battle of Bataan during World War II for the Maywood Bataan Day Organization's annual service Sept. 11 at Veterans Park in Maywood.

The Maywood Bataan Day Organization and the Village of Maywood jointly sponsored the event to bring awareness to the harsh conditions Soldiers endured during America's campaign in the Pacific in World War II.

Hastings, the keynote speaker for the event, honored the efforts of Soldiers in the past and stressed the importance of America's continued fight against terrorists today.

"I'm humbled and honored to pay tribute, collectively, to these heroes of Bataan; for those who gave so much and asked for nothing in return," said Hastings." "No American, no Filipino can ever, must never, forget."

Hastings said it was important for citizens to remember those committed to fighting in today's wars, having done so for over 10 years.

"Just as it was for the Greatest Generation, we bring the fight to the enemy - behind our flag is resolute purpose," he said. "To those we lost at the Fall of Bataan, and to those we lost after 9/11; we shall never forget."

Spc. Terron Carter, a Maywood native and a soldier from the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery, along with Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Bowman Plainfield , the command sergeant major of the 33rd IBCT, honored the men of Bataan by placing a wreath on the 192nd Tank Battalion Memorial.

The 192nd, based in Maywood, was part of the Illinois National Guard's 33 rd Infantry Division, the predessor of today's 33rd IBCT.

The event included Guest Speaker Emilio O. Hildalgo, a retired colonel of the Judge Advocate Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and former Judge General of the Philippines Air Force. Hildalgo described in vivid detail the events surrounding the Battle of Bataan, and subsequently, what has been dubbed the Bataan Death March after Japanese forces captured Allied troops on April 9, 1942. It would not be until February 17, 1945 that Allied Forces would retake the Bataan Peninsula.

"Out of the 89 who left Maywood for the Philippines in 1941, only 43 came home," said Hildalgo. "We do not have any regrets. We have fought for a good and just cause. We have done our duty for God and Country."

The memorial event also paid tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and passengers of Flight 93. First responders were also commemorated at the event.

Edwin H. Walker IV, Vice President of the Maywood Bataan Day Organization, said it was humbling to know people who were committed to serving in America's Armed Forces today as well as honoring those who served in the past.

Special guests included the U.S. Navy Great Lakes Ceremonial Band, American Legion Posts, VietNow Color Guard, local elected officials and veterans.

photo 1) U.S. Army photo by and PFC Alisha D. Grezlik, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs/ Spc. Terron Carter, a Maywood native and a soldier from the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment, along with Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Bowman of Plainfield, the command sergeant major of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, honor the men of Bataan by placing a wreath on the 192nd Tank Battalion Memorial.

photo 2) U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher A. Garibay, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs/ Col. Paul C. Hastings of St. Charles, commander of the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, bows his head in prayer during the Maywood Bataan Day Annual Memorial Service in Maywood Sept. 11 at Maywood. The event sought to remember the efforts of Soldiers in the past, present and future.

 
Governor Quinn Honors Fallen Heroes on Tenth Anniversary of September 11, 2011 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Andrew Mason   
Friday, 16 September 2011 08:12

Unveils Portrait of a Soldier Memorial Exhibit, Encourages Remembrance and Service

CHICAGO – September 11, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today joined Gold Star families to honor the sacrifices that Illinois servicemembers have made in the global war against terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. Governor Quinn unveiled the Portrait of a Soldier Memorial exhibit this morning at DePaul University in Chicago.

“As we observe the anniversary of one of America’s darkest days, we must remember those who have given their lives to protect our country and the debt we owe them that can never be repaid,” Governor Quinn said. “I am proud today to stand with some of Illinois’ true heroes – our Gold Star families – as we honor the sacrifice they and their loved ones have made.”

The Portrait of a Soldier Memorial exhibit, which has been viewed by thousands of people throughout Illinois, is a series of hand-drawn portraits of more than 250 Illinois men and women who have died in service to our country since Sept. 11, 2001.

Starting today, the exhibit will be on display at DePaul University’s Loop campus at 333 South State Street through September 16.

Artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait of a soldier in August 2004, after Army Spc. Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, was killed in Iraq. Schilling presented the portrait to Spc. Neely’s parents to convey his sympathy for their loss. In Oct. 2005, while a student at Eastern Illinois University, Schilling decided to draw a portrait of every Illinois servicemember who has fallen during the Global War on Terror.

Governor Quinn is encouraging Illinois residents to pause today and recognize the servicemen and servicewomen who have lost their lives fighting for democracy overseas and the thousands of Illinois troops that have served around the world in the 10 years since September 11, 2011. All state buildings have been directed to fly their flags at half-mast from sunrise to sunset.

In recognition of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Governor Quinn also proclaimed today a day of service and remembrance. A copy of the proclamation is attached.

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Illinois National Guard Joins Gov. Quinn to Support Illinois Military Family Relief Fund PDF Print E-mail
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Written by readMedia   
Friday, 16 September 2011 07:26

CHICAGO, IL (09/10/2011)(readMedia)-- Members of the Illinois Army National Guard joined Gov. Pat Quinn in Chicago Sept. 10 stressing the importance of the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. To date, the fund has distributed almost $13 million dollars to Illinois military families to assist with the financial burden at home when a loved one is deployed.

Photo 1: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Brad Leighton, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart of Belleville, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, speaks about the importance of the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund (IMFRF) to the over 19,000 Illinois National Guard troops who have deployed overseas since Sept. 11, 2001. The IMFRF was the first of its kind to be established after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. To the right of Enyart is Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Erica Borggren. The governor's press conference was held at the Illinois Army National Guard's Calumet Avenue readiness center in Chicago on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Photo 2: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Brad Leighton, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/

Sgt. Charlie Helmholt of Belleville of the Illinois Army National Guard's 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment speaks of his experiences on Sept. 11, 2001 when he was a member of the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division "The Old Guard," which responded to the Pentagon immediately after the terrorist attacks. Helmholt said the police officers, firefighters and servicemembers are much more heroic than sports stars or movie actors. To the right of Helmholt is Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. The governor's press conference was held at the Illinois Army National Guard's Calumet Avenue readiness center in Chicago on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Photo 3: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Brad Leighton, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/ Capt. Ling Chong of the Illinois Army National Guard's Co. C, 341st Military Intelligence Battalion in Crestwood speaks about how the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund benefitted him and his family as well as many of the Soldiers he leads. Behind Chong is Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. The governor's press conference was held at the Illinois Army National Guard's Calumet Avenue readiness center in Chicago on Saturday, Sept. 10.

For high resolution photos and additional 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 Soldiers and Airmen Remember Where They Were 9/11 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by readMedia   
Thursday, 15 September 2011 07:18

SPRINGFIELD, IL (09/08/2011)(readMedia)-- By 2nd Lt. April Hawes, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

Before the planes hit and before the towers crumbled, it was a routine Tuesday morning for four Illinois National Guardsmen. One Soldier was teaching in his classroom while a future Illinois Soldier was listening to her teacher in biology class. Across the world, an Illinois Airman arrived in Germany for annual training. Another Airman, then with the New York National Guard, was on Long Island when disaster struck.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Carlock

When Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Carlock, of Astoria, joined the Illinois Army National Guard in 1993, he did it because he wanted to continue his family heritage of military service while getting his education. Soon after, he became a high school teacher in Astoria.

September 11, 2001 another teacher told Carlock what was happening on the east coast. He immediately turned on the TV in his classroom to see it for himself.

"I stopped all of my planned lessons for the day and made all of my students watch everything on the news," he said. "I urged them to remember that day as it would be a pivotal day in American history and they are to witness it."

Carlock, who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 44th Chemical Battalion in Macomb, said he was instantly shocked and angered when he witnessed the 9/11 attacks. He then realized, as an Illinois National Guardsman, he needed to be prepared to possibly deploy stateside or abroad because of these attacks.

Carlock eventually deployed in 2004 to Iraq with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery in Macomb.

Since he has joined, witnessed those terrorist attacks and deployed, Carlock said he is proud of his service in the Illinois Army National Guard.

"I believe that we have proven ourselves as a professional organization that deserves the same respect

that the Active Army receives," he said. "From our efforts and professionalism, I think the National Guard is

looked at in a much more positive light compared to the years prior to Sept. 11, 2001. I feel very proud that I have been able to serve at such a crucial time."

Sgt. Sara Minder

Like Carlock, Sgt. Sara Minder of Springfield, with Joint Force Headquarters in Springfield, watched the events of that historic day on TV while sitting in a high-school classroom.

"All I could do was sit and stare at the TV. No one in the classroom said a word," she said. "I think we were all hoping the first plane was just an accident. Seeing the second plane hit made me realize that this was intentional."

Eighteen months later, she joined the Illinois Army National Guard.

Her reason for joining had a dual-purpose. She said she wanted to be like her cousin and best friend, Jason, who was a Marine. She said she also wanted to do something after she felt the fear of her country on 9/11.

Just two months after she enlisted, Jason was killed in a helicopter accident in Iraq.

In August 2003, she left for basic training and advanced individual training, which she was pulled out of a week early for a deployment. She returned home for four days and then travelled to Iraq with the 232nd Corps Support Battalion in Springfield. She spent her 19th birthday and the first anniversary of Jason's death overseas.

While she remembers the fear she felt 10 years ago on 9/11, Minder said she hopes her service in the Illinois Army National Guard will prevent her fellow Americans from experiencing the same fear in the future.

"I feel a stronger sense of duty to my country," she said. "I do not want another generation to have to feel the fear that we felt on that day."

Chief Master Sgt. Mark Stevens

Chief Master Sgt. Mark Stevens, of Elk Grove Village, was on foreign soil 10 years ago when he heard about the terrorist attacks. He had just landed in Germany for annual training as the first sergeant with the 217th Engineering Installation Squadron attached to the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield.

A cashier at the base exchange was the first to tell him a plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He then watched German TV and listened to the radio to learn a second plane crashed into the South

Tower and yet another plane crashed into the Pentagon.

"(I felt) anger and rage that someone would attack America and kill innocent civilians," said Stevens, who is now assigned to the 183rd Air Operations Group in Springfield.

While he felt anger and rage, Stevens said Airmen around him were also angry, shocked and confused by the terrorist attacks. Since he joined the Illinois Air National Guard in 1985, Stevens said he had always been proud to defend his country, but after 9/11 he saw his service in a more serious light.

"I always took my military career serious, but this made it more real and important," he said. "The level of seriousness about (what) we do struck home."

Senior Master Sgt. Kim Piskacek

Senior Master Sgt. Kim Piskacek, of O'Fallon, walked into chaos when she went to work at the Office of Student Affairs at Stony Brook University on Long Island, N.Y. on that Tuesday morning.

Fellow employees gathered around the TV while the phones rang off the hook with frantic New Yorkers on the other end asking what they should do. The college president soon announced classes were cancelled and urged students not to travel toward Manhattan.

As others went back to their desks, Piskacek stayed glued to the TV.

"It fell," she told her co-workers.

"What fell?" they asked her.

"The tower," she said.

They didn't believe her. They didn't want to believe her; until they came back to the TV to witness the smoke for themselves, she said.

At the time, Piskacek was assigned to the New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing, which soon became a staging area for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross. The 105th lost two Airmen that day, one of whom she knew. Piskacek also said many 105th Airmen lost family and friends from the terrorist attacks.

It wasn't until 2004 when she said she realized how significant 9/11 was to all Americans, not just New Yorkers.

She said she was at an Air Force noncommissioned officer academy when the subject came up. She heard everyone else recall the day, just as she remembered, and said she was surprised to hear everyone was just as affected as she was.

"As New Yorkers, we didn't think of anything outside of New York City," she said. "It's so weird when you're that close to New York City and then you hear everyone else's account."

In 2004 she transferred to the Illinois Air National Guard. She then deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 with the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield, where she is currently assigned.

Since her military career began with the Air Force in 1989, Piskacek said 9/11 brought a new meaning to her service.

"I've always been proud to serve, but Sept. 11 made it more personal," she said.

 
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