ROCK FALLS, IL (07/26/2011)(readMedia)-- Capt. Michael Barton with the Illinois National Guard's 1644th Transportation Company has deployed and returned a decorated Soldier and now as the opportunity to deploy as the commander for the same unit.
Barton, a Greenview native, deployed as an enlisted Soldier with the 1644th in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004–2005, receiving a Purple Heart. Now as the commander of the Rock Falls unit, Barton believes he can do even more.
"With my other deployments, everything was being directed towards me," Barton said. "Now, I'm the one providing direction for the unit."
Barton deployed with the 1144th Transportation Battalion in 2007-2008 and received a Bronze Star for his service.
With two deployments under his belt, Barton took command of the 1644th in 2009. Barton admits to being a little nervous upon taking command, as he would be leading some of his former comrades. However, the Soldiers accepted him immediately and the relationship has only improved.
"When I found out he was coming back I was really excited," said Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Hacker of Rock Falls, a truckmaster with the unit who deployed with Barton in 2004. "He was a standout guy as an enlisted Soldier, and now he's a standout guy as an officer."
Now the 1644th will tackle line haul operations in Kuwait. They will move equipment throughout Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.
"I'm excited for this deployment and what lies ahead for the 1644th," Barton said. "The team we have assembled is extremely professional, tactically and technically proficient. I have no doubt they will accomplish any mission that is given to them."
Lt. Col. Tracey Collins of Naperville, battalion commander for the 1644th, served with Barton when he was a young specialist and she was a youthful lieutenant with the Rock Falls unit. She said Barton is a great fit for the 1644th.
"Cpt. Barton is an awesome leader," Collins said. "You give him a mission and he runs with it. Having been in that unit for so long, he has established himself and earned the respect of his troops. I am 100% behind his leadership style."
While Barton is serving in an atypical role, he is commanding a unique unit. The 1644th has four husband and wife duos, two father and son tandems, and three groups of siblings in its ranks. Despite the familiar relations, Barton says this is the most professional team he has ever worked with.
"Being the commander of the 1644th has been the highlight of my 15 and a half year career to this point," Barton said.
The 1644th was mobilized in early July and will spend the next two months training at Fort Bliss, Texas prior to deploying to Kuwait. They will replace the 1244th Transportation Company from North Riverside, which was mobilized in September 2010.
Photo 1: Capt. Michael Barton of Greenview
Photo 2: Photo submitted/ Capt. Michael Barton of Greenview, then a staff sergeant with the 1644th Transportation Company in Rock Falls, sits atop a five-ton truck as his convoy travels through Iraq. Barton received a Purple Heart while deployed with the 1644th in 2004-2005. He is currently training in Fort Bliss, Texas preparing to deploy to the Iraq/Kuwait theater this summer, this time as the commander of the 1644th.
Photo 3: Photo submitted/ Capt. Michael Barton of Greenview, then a staff sergeant with the 1644th Transportation Company in Rock Falls, poses next to six Iraqi children. Barton was deployed with the 1644th in 2004-2005, receiving a Purple Heart. He is now preparing to deploy to Kuwait with the Rock Falls-based unit, this time as the commander.
Story by Spc. Brian Vorce, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
For high resolution photos, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at
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