Military & Veterans News
Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth Participates in Memorial Day Events PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 13:10
SPRINGFIELD, IL (05/14/2014)(readMedia)-- WHO: • Illinois Army National Guard Lt. Col. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, Ill. WHAT: • Several Memorial Day ceremonies across Illinois WHEN/WHERE: • May 24, 12 p.m. - Grand Marshal of Chicago Memorial Day parade. The parade will start at 12 p.m. and proceed south on State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren. • May 25, 11 a.m. -Streamwood Memorial Day ceremony; Streamwood Veterans Memorial next to the village hall at 301 E. Irving Park Road in Streamwood, Ill. • May 26, 10:45 a.m. –Oak Ridge Cemetery at War Memorials, 1441 Monument in Springfield, Ill. • May 26, 2 p.m. -Camp Butler National Cemetery Memorial Day, 5063 Camp Butler Road in Springfield, Ill. • May 27, 9 a.m. -Athens High School, #1 Warrior Way in Athens, Ill. • May 27, 2 p.m. –Trinity Lutheran School, 11503 German Church Road, Burr Ridge, Ill. MORE: • 2014 marks the 10-year anniversary the aviation incident that injured Duckworth. She served in Iraq as an Assistant Operations Officer and flew combat missions as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. During a mission north of Baghdad on Nov. 12, 2004 her aircraft was ambushed and a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter she was co-piloting. She continued to attempt to pilot the aircraft until passing out from blood loss. As a result of the attack, Duckworth lost both her legs and partial use of one arm. She received many decorations for her actions, including the Purple Heart, the Air Medal and the Combat Action Badge. • Duckworth spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. As one of the highest-ranking patients, she became an advocate for her fellow Soldiers and testified before Congress about caring for veterans and wounded warriors. • She became the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs in 2006. • In 2009, President Obama appointed Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. • Duckworth was elected to Congress in 2012. • Duckworth lives in Hoffman Estates with her husband Bryan, an Army major. Since her recovery, Duckworth has taken up scuba diving, surfing, skydiving and flies as a civilian pilot. She has also completed several marathons. • Enlisting in September 1991, Duckworth continues to serve with the Illinois Army National Guard. • Duckworth's husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, is a major in the Illinois Army National Guard where he has served since 1987. For additional information, please contact the Public Affairs office at 217-761-3569 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it -30-

News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Illinois National Guard PAO   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:25

SPRINGFIELD, IL (05/13/2014)(readMedia)-- The Illinois National Guard, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and U.S Northern Command will hold a media availability during a week-long earthquake response exercise at the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield at 11:00 a.m. May 14. The media availability will coincide with a visit from the Illinois National Guard's State Partners from Poland.


• Illinois Air National Guard’s 183rd Fighter Wing based in Springfield, Ill.

• Illinois Army National Guard’s 65th Troop Command Brigade based in Springfield, Ill.

• Illinois National Guard State Partnership Program Polish delegation


• Media availability highlighting the Illinois National Guard’s earthquake response training and its strong partnership with Poland.

WHEN: Wednesday May 14, 2014 at 11:00AM Central Time (US & Canada)

WHERE:183rd Fighter Wing
1301 J. David Jones Pkwy
Springfield, Illinois 62707


• The Illinois National Guard is conducting a week-long exercise to prepare its units for rapidly responding to a major earthquake along the New Madrid and Wabash faults in southern Illinois.

• A delegation of Polish Army officers is visiting the Illinois National Guard to study the Guard’s domestic operations mission.

• The Polish delegation will observe three days of exercises.

• The delegation is part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, which partners U.S. states with European countries to support the Department of Defense security cooperation objectives.

• Representatives from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and advisors from U.S. Northern Command are also participating in the exercise.

Illinois National Guard servicemember raises children, servicemembers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Staff Sgt.Michael Camacho, 108th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs   
Monday, 12 May 2014 08:34
CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT (05/10/2014)(readMedia)-- Mother's Day in the United States is annually held on the second Sunday of May. It celebrates motherhood and it is a time when people show appreciation to mothers and mother figures. In today's military there are thousands of mothers who serve the U.S. at home and abroad. Many of these military moms have blended their leadership skills with maternal care used in their family and military family. Staff Sgt. Maria McEnroe-Prentiss, the noncommissioned officer in charge administration with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 108th Sustainment Brigade out of Chicago, has merged her troop care and leadership training as a NCO with her lessons learned as a mother of 11 children. She said her military service and experience has aided her as a mother and was the encouragement for her older children to also enlist. Deployed to Kuwait with the 108th Sust. Bde., Prentiss will spend this Mother's Day with the Soldiers she provides leadership and care for and be away from her seven children still at home.Prentiss enlisted into the Army Reserves in 1980 and later joined the Active Duty Army in 1982. While stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., she met Todd Prentiss, who was also stationed at Fort Campbell. The two married at the post chapel in 1983, two years later the couple had their first child, the start to the family they wanted. Shortly after their first child's birth Maria left the Army to raise their new family, while Todd continued to serve. "The military was a big part our life, but we both know we wanted to have a big family and I wanted to be a dedicated mother while Todd continued to serve," said Maria. The two moved to Germany when Todd was reassigned to his new duty station. In Germany the Prentiss family continued to grow as the couple now had four children. In 1989 Todd's military service had come to a close and the family moved to Maria's hometown of Peoria, Ill. Todd joined the Peoria Fire Department while Maria continued to care for the children at home. Even after her service Maria said what she learned through professional leadership training and experience was never forgotten. "When I attended (the Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course) we learned a lot about troop care, leadership, compassion and all the things needed to provide the best for your Soldiers," said Maria. "Nearly every leadership trait or skill was something I put into practice with the children, especially as they grew up and our family grew." Todd and Maria often told their children about how they met while serving on Active Duty. On a few on their family trips the children were able to visit Fort Campbell and see the chapel where their parents were married. Maria said she believes this exposure to the military coupled with her and Todd's stories about military service influenced their children to also enlist into the military. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sean Prentiss a Peoria Native, with the 86th maintenance squadron was one of the first of their children to join the military enlisting into the Active Duty Air Force in 2006. Sean said the values his mother instilled in them help prepare him for military culture. "I feel that when it came time to go over customs and courtesies along with the proper mentality needed to be effective in the service, her parenting had already formed that foundation prior to going into the recruiters office," said Sean. As her children came closer to the age of 18, the military option was not low on the list for her children, said Maria. Army Sgt. Sonja Prentiss also a Peoria native, with the Active Army's 8th Military Information Support Battalion said her mother was a critical influence in her joining the military. "If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be who I am today," said Sonja. Sonja said her mother had always encouraged her to join the military when she was growing up to help her decide what she wanted to achieve in her life. "I joined in 2009, when I was 19 years old," said Sonja. "I had not gone to college, and couldn't figure out what I wanted to be. Being in the military has given me a life that I never could have had if I had stayed in my hometown." While Sonja credits her mother for enlisting, it was Sonja's visit to the recruiters office that lead to Maria re-enlistment into the Army. Maria said she wanted to accompany Sonja to a visit at the recruiters office, the recruiter mentioned the opportunities for prior service wanting to return into the military. Soon after Maria enlisted into the Illinois Army National Guard, and in the following months Sonja joined the Active Duty Army. As Maria shows pride in the service of her children, her children share the same pride in their mother. "I am extremely proud of my mom and her ability to push herself," said Sonja. "Not many people would take the steps that she has and rejoin the military so late in life, and with seven out of 11 children at home," said Prentiss. "My mother is a true inspiration to all of the people that she comes in contact with, and she most certainly has what it takes to be an outstanding NCO and take care of her Soldiers."

Illinois National Guard members are recognized at the Winston P. Wilson matches PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Aleah M. Castrejon, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office   
Monday, 12 May 2014 08:26

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (05/09/2014)(readMedia)-- Brig. Gen. Daniel Krumrei, the Illinois National Guard Adjutant General presented awards at the 43rd annual Winston P. Wilson (WPW) competition at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Ark., May 8.

"Shooting is a perishable skill," said Krumrei. "What makes the competition so valuable are the skills the servicemembers bring back to our Soldiers and units. These skills improve our combat readiness and prepare us to defend our nation."

The WPW matches are held at the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in Little Rock, Ark. Servicemembers from around the nation compete in the WPW matches. There are approximately 90 teams and 20 different matches. In order to make it to the WPW competition, the servicemembers must complete vigorous training, which includes multiple days on the range and volunteering their time to polish their shooting skills. Expert shooters from each state are sent to compete in this long time-honored competitive set of matches.

"Shooting is not only for the competitions," said Sgt. 1st Class David Perdew of Astoria, Ill., the Illinois National Guard state marksmanship coordinator. "The skill is fine tuned and leaves an impact on the servicemembers and benefits the Guard as a whole."

The reflexive fire match is one of the 20 matches in the WPW competitions. Reflexive Fire is an advanced marksmanship skill that relies on the shooters instinctive response to engage close targets in a short period of time. During this match, the servicemembers must accurately fire the rifle while doing a series of movements.

Staff Sgt. Gabe Cullers of Carrier Mills, Ill., with the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry in Marion, Ill., took first place in the reflexive fire match.

"We work on our marksmanship skills for multiple days, shooting all day," said Cullers. "It feels good to represent the state as a first place winner."

The matches are not an easy task. The servicemembers must be well rounded in shooting, health and in dedication. The matches take a lot of time and commitment, said Gen. Frank Grass, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau.

To be a committed marksman it takes time and dedication beyond normal duty obligations.

"We spent five days in Tennessee zeroing rifles and running through matches and drills on a range from sun up to sun down," said Sgt. Jeff Bugger of Springfield, Ill., with the 1844th Transportation Company in Quincy, Ill., who took second place in the reflexive fire match. "It's a good feeling to know we came out on top while competing against hundreds of other competitors."

This competition is invaluable, as the skills are passed to the junior enlisted, said Grass. Having competed in the WPW matches years ago.

"These servicemembers come from all over the country honing their skills to compete in this competition," said Grass.

Grass awarded the Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge for their outstanding marksmanship abilities during the WPW rifle and pistol championships.

This year, two Illinois National Guardsmen received the Chief's 50 Marksmanship Badge: Sgt. 1st Class John Stockton of Springfield, Ill., with the Headquarters Company, 33rd Brigade Combat Team in Urbana, Ill., and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Mix of Marseilles, Ill., with the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Chicago. Mix is also a distinguished marksman in both the rifle and pistol discipline. The distinguished marksmanship program has been around since 1884 and is what the shooters strive to obtain.

The competitors learned and taught each other on individual and team proficiency with rifles, pistols and shotguns during numerous matches, where they competed with the best shooters from around the nation.

Braley: Dubuque-Area Pearl Harbor Hero Should be Eligible for Additional Service Awards PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 09:20

Congressman asks Navy Secretary for full review of Chaplain Aloysius Schmitt’s records, after heroic efforts aboard USS Oklahoma


Washington, D.C. – During the attack on Pearl Harbor, while attempting to evacuate those aboard the USS Oklahoma, Dubuque-area Chaplain Aloysius Schmitt told those trying to pull him to safety, ‘Please let go of me, and may God bless you all’. Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) is today asking the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus for a full-review of Chaplain Schmitt’s records with the belief that his service and sacrifice make him eligible for some of the Navy’s highest awards for valor.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Braley said. “The actions Chaplain Schmitt took that day—and the lives he saved—continue to have a positive effect on Iowa and our nation, so it’s only right that we ensure his sacrifice is honored to the fullest extent.”

Schmitt, the first Chaplain of any faith killed in World War II, was aboard the USS Oklahoma as Japanese aircraft launched their assault on Pearl Harbor. While he was ministering to the dying and wounded in the ship’s sick bay, the Oklahoma was struck by a torpedo causing the ship to capsize. Rather than evacuate the badly damaged ship, Schmitt remained on board, repeatedly directing others to safety before the Oklahoma sank.

Braley is asking the Navy to review Schmitt’s records to see if he qualified for awards for valor, the criteria for which include actions taken at great danger and at great personal risk. Braley’s letter details several other individuals aboard the Oklahoma that received awards for valor, including the Medal of Honor.

“The United States of America, the state of Iowa, and the residents of Dubuque are eternally grateful for the sacrifice made by this brave man,” Braley wrote.

A copy of Braley’s letter is available below:



April 30, 2014

The Honorable Ray Mabus

Secretary of the Navy

1200 Navy Pentagon

Washington, DC 20305-1000


Dear Secretary Mabus,

I am writing to you today on behalf of the community of Dubuque, Iowa regarding the service of Chaplain Aloysius Schmitt. He was the first Chaplain of any faith killed during World War II. On the morning of December 7, 1941, Chaplain Schmitt was aboard the USS Oklahoma as Japanese aircraft launched their assault on Pearl Harbor. While he was ministering to the dying and wounded in the ship’s sick bay, the Oklahoma was struck by a torpedo causing the ship to capsize.

Chaplain Schmitt, along with several other sailors, was forced to move to a compartment where only a small porthole offered a method of evacuation from the incoming water. With no regard for his own safety, Chaplain Schmitt helped these men escape, and only after all other personnel had exited, did he try to exit himself. Struggling to get through the porthole, he realized that others had found their way into the compartment. Knowing that time was short, he directed these sailors to escape ahead of himself. As the water continued to rise, the sailors urged him to save himself yet Chaplain Schmitt replied only with “Please let go of me, and may God bless you all.”

I have heard from many of my constituents regarding this powerful sacrifice and find Chaplain Schmitt’s actions worthy of additional acknowledgment. Given the heroic nature of his actions, many in the Dubuque community have felt that he deserves greater recognition in the form of a valorous combat award.

Chaplain Schmitt’s sacrifice was not the only one of its kind that day. Ensign Frank O’Flaherty and Seaman First Class James Ward, also aboard the Oklahoma, were awarded the Medal of Honor for remaining at their post and allowing fellow sailors to escape before the ship capsized. Machinist’s Mate First Class Robert Scott and Chief Watertender Peter Tomich were also awarded the Medal of Honor for similar actions.

I ask you today to consider an appropriate upgrade from the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for which Chaplain Schmitt was originally awarded. Department of the Navy guidance requires that an award for valor must be performed in the presence of great danger and at great personal risk, criteria that I feel Chaplain Schmitt’s actions certainly meet.

The United States of America, the state of Iowa, and the residents of Dubuque are eternally grateful for the sacrifice made by this brave man. I appreciate you taking the time to consider this request and look forward to hearing back from you.


Bruce Braley

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