Three awarded additional Army Achievement Medal for perfect performance

CAMP ATTERBURY, IND (07/18/2014)(readMedia)-- After five continuous days of testing, eight Illinois National Guard Soldiers earned the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, July 17. Three of the Soldiers performed each of the 39 tasks to standard on the first attempt and was awarded an Army Achievement Medal.

"It really brings out the best of us as infantrymen," said Spc. Michael Schaefer of Mundelein, Illinois, an infantryman with Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Aurora, Illinois. "It is a lot of helping each other out and getting each other squared away for each day's tasks. Everyone has really worked together to try and get each other as far as they can."

Seventy-seven Infantrymen from the Illinois National Guard put forth their greatest effort to wear the prestigious badge. The Soldiers hailed from the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment; and 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, all units within the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The EIB test measured Soldiers' physical fitness and ability to perform to standards of excellence in a broad spectrum of critical infantry skills. The Army Physical Fitness Test and land navigation was held the first day, followed by lanes the next three days.

During EIB lanes, Soldiers were tested on the M9 Pistol, M4 Carbine Rifle, M240B Machine Gun, M249 Machine Gun, MK19 40mm Grenade Machine Gun, M136 (AT4) Rocket Launcher, .50-Caliber M2 Machine Gun, and M320 Grenade Launcher.

"There is a lot of memorization and getting the sequences right and doing the steps in the right order that takes a lot of mental ability along with physical," said Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Wells of Glen Carbon, Illinois, a platoon sergeant with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Litchfield, Illinois. "Staying focused and on task was the key to success."

In addition to skills testing on multiple weapons, Soldiers were evaluated on a range of tasks such as move under direct fire, identify and react to possible improvised explosive device, provide tactical combat casualty care, employ an M18A1 Claymore Mine and hand grenade, perform voice communications and use visual signaling techniques.

"These are tasks these guys do in their job all the time, so they should have good fundamental knowledge and then we work on refining it to standard," said Sgt. 1st Class Aric Schwab of Plainfield, Illinois, a EIB grader with Company D, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Woodstock, Illinois. "The task is on them. They just have to perform the task to time and standard and we are here to give them feedback on how they performed."

After performing the skills testing, Soldiers ended with a 12-mile foot march in less than three hours to secure their goal of wearing an EIB.

"It's such a coveted thing for an infantryman to get," said Schaefer. "There is such a huge history and it's by no means easy to achieve. You really have to be focused and determined and that's what boils down to an infantryman; working hard everyday and staying focused, working together to achieve a common goal. The EIB is what an 11 Bravo is."

This is the first time in many years Illinois National Guard Soldiers had the opportunity to earn an EIB. Infantrymen from both Active Duty and National Guard units participated in this year's 205th Infantry Brigade, Camp Atterbury, Indiana, Regional EIB competition.

"The goal is to continue sending Illinois Soldiers to EIB next year," said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Beck of Eagle, Wisconsin, the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team sergeant major. "It was a great opportunity for our Soldiers to experience camaraderie with Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division who is partnered with the 33rd IBCT for the Total Force Partnership."

No matter if the Soldier received a badge or not, there were valuable skills gained.

"When they come here and go through the training, they know about everything they need to know to take back and teach their unit," said Schwab. "They don't have to come back with their badge to be a better Soldier. They are better off either way."

Infantrymen who earned the EIB and Army Achievement Medal include :

• Staff Sgt. Anthony Henner of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a sniper section leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Chicago

• Spc. Michael Schaefer of Mundelein, Illinois, an infantryman with Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Aurora, Illinois

• Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Wells of Glen Carbon, Illinois, a platoon sergeant with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Litchfield, Illinois

Infantrymen who earned the EIB include :

• 1st Lt. Michael Kuvales of Palos Hills, Illinois with Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Dixon, Illinois

• 1st Lt. Lavern Meissner of Niles, Illinois, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Chicago

• Spc. Anthony Miller of Springfield, Illinois, with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Litchfield, Illinois

• Sgt. Uriah Porter of Du Quoin, Illinois, with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in West Frankfort, Illinois

• Pfc. Steven Smith of Washington, Illinois, with Company A, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Bartonville, Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, IL (07/16/2014)(readMedia)-- SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - This week's National Guard Bureau qualification scorecard found the Illinois Army National Guard moved to first place among the states and territories for duty military occupational specialty qualified (DMOSQ) Soldiers. Of the available 8,983 Soldiers assigned, 8,713 are military occupational specialty (MOS) qualified, which is a success rate of 97.5 percent.

A Soldier is DMOSQ when he or she graduates from a school required to qualify for the job specialty.

"The importance of this is about being a ready and relevant force," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mark Hebenstreit of Springfield, Illinois, human resources specialist for the personnel branch. "Units need to be able to perform missions, not only for deployments, but federal and state missions. It is important to have trained and competent Soldiers in the units to perform homeland security and combat missions."

The training branch (G3) and the personnel branch (G1) are responsible for identifying Soldiers who need to qualify in their occupational specialty and processing school applications in a timely manner.

"There is a 30-day window when we are allowed to obtain seats from other states," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Melton of Springfield, Illinois, training technician in the Individual Training Branch (G3/7). "We have to stay on top of the packets and process applications."

Melton called multiple states to use allocated school seats. Other states gave unused seats to Illinois, allowing Illinois to send more Soldiers to school.

"This is a team effort between the G3, G1 and the major subordinate command's," said Master Sgt. Christopher Anderson of Dixon, Illinois, the quota source manager for the G3. "It's challenging to get to number one in the state; it is a committed effort in proper manning."

While Illinois is currently number one, the numbers can fluctuate easily, as Soldiers move units and change jobs.

"We try to get the Solders trained as soon as possible," said Melton.

To be effective it is important the Soldiers know their jobs and are DMOSQ.

"We must be committed to ensuring our Soldiers are highly trained," said Lt. Col. Stanely Manes of Springfield, Illinois, chief training division.

PEORIA, IL (07/07/2014)(readMedia)-- Approximately 40 members of the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria are scheduled to return home Tuesday, July 8, after serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom since February 2014. The returning members are a mix of aircrew and maintainers, who supported and flew C-130 missions within U.S. Central Command Area of Operations. About 40 members of the 182nd Airlift Wing were activated in February and were assigned to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia.

The 182nd Airlift Wing flies the C-130 aircraft which is primarily used to transport cargo, personnel and aeromedical evacuees. Since Sept. 11, 2001 the 182nd has deployed over 4,000 members to support operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Many of the wing's members have deployed numerous times. The wing has flown more than 17,500 hours in direct support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. This deployment cycle is one of many in the wing's history of supporting the Global War on Terrorism.

Both C-130 aircrafts and the crew are expected to return Tuesday, at approximately 1:30 p.m., to the 182nd, located at 2416 S. Falcon Blvd in Peoria.

Media is welcome to attend both returns and should contact Lt. Col. Steve Thomas at (309)633-5534 to be added to the entrance list and provided updates on any changes in the arrival times.

Regional Soldiers share camaraderie during competition

SPRINGFIELD, IL (07/02/2014)(readMedia)-- Illinois and Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers sweep the MAC IV RegionalsCAMP PERRY, Ohio. - National Guard soldiers from five states gathered at Camp Perry, Ohio this weekend to compete in the Marksmanship Advisory Council Region Four-Small Arms Championship.

Illinois teams took first and second place overall, while the Wisconsin team placed in third. Both states also claim an individual champion. The individual pistol champion hails from Illinois and the individual rifle champion calls Wisconsin home.

The first place team consists of Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Mix, Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; Staff Sgt. Gabriel Cullers, HHC, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment; Sgt. 1st Class John Stockton, HHC, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and Spc. Joseph Miller, 232nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion; all of the Illinois National Guard. Stockton was also the individual pistol champion.

Sgt. Brandon Swanson, of the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Brigade Combat Team, Wisconsin National Guard, not only took the top individual spot, but was part of the third place team.

Swanson is also a member of the All Guard Service Rifle Team, which means he represents the National Guard at military and civilian marksmanship competitions across the U.S.

Competitions aren't just about winning awards though. The ability to shoot accurately is a basic soldier skill. "I think fundamentally, it's the most important thing in the entire military," said Swanson.

Swanson uses his marksmanship skills to positively affect his fellow soldiers. He works with other units in his state to pass along those skills. He will soon be attending the Small Arms Master Gunner course in his efforts to become a marksmanship instructor.

Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Glover, of the Master Weapons Training Team, Ohio National Guard, also knows a little bit about training marksmanship skills. He has personally been shooting competitively since 2002, but has been part of the MWTT for the last six years.

Glover has spent a lot of time on the range training soldiers how to be an effective shooter. "We have done a lot of support for the pre- and post-mobilization training for deploying units," said Glover. "They bring us in to help them out on the live fire portion of their training."

The primary mission of Glover's team is to provide primary marksmanship instruction for all Ohio units. As the Assistant Noncommissioned-Officer-In-Charge of the team, it is something that he takes a lot of pride in, but he isn't too proud to learn some new tips at the competitions though.

"One of our guys has a different hold on his standing position where he gets his arm fully extended on the front hand guard," said Glover. "I think it has promise."

The Marksmanship Advisory Council Small Arms Championships occur each year around the nation. There are seven MAC regions in the U.S. that include all 54 states and territories. Ideally, each state conducts their own state matches to find the best teams to send to the MAC regional matches.

The matches are sponsored by the National Guard Marksmanship Training Center in North Little Rock, Ark. Col. Franklin D. Powell, commander of the NGMTC, feels competition is another training tool to strengthen our core of service members.

"These shooters need to take what they learn at these competitions back to their units," said Powell. "If they work hard out here and learn from other shooters, they can bring back a wealth of knowledge that can be invaluable to their units."

First time shooter, Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Zabinski, Alpha Company, Recruiting and Retention Battalion, Wisconsin National Guard, seems to agree.

"The shooting community is awesome," said Zabinski. "I can talk to anybody from any state and they're willing to give up any information whatsoever. We're all on the same team."

FORT RILEY, KANSAS (07/01/2014)(readMedia)-- Lt. Col. Neil Putnam, a native of New Haven, Connecticut, assumed command of the Illinois Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment from Lt. Col. Clayton E. Kuetemeyer of Chatham, Illinois in Fort Riley, Kansas, on June 26.

Putnam, upon leaving active duty, joined the Illinois National Guard in 1999. His previous assignment was with the Special Operations Command Pacific at Camp Smith, Hawaii serving as the Commands' National Guard Advisor.

Kuetemeyer will be advancing his career at the U.S. Army War College.

Approximately 10 Soldiers mobilize July 3 as part of airlift support mission

DECATUR, IL (07/01/2014)(readMedia)-- DECATUR, Ill. - A deployment ceremony is scheduled for approximately 10 Soldiers who will deploy to Djibouti, Africa. The ceremony for Detachment 36, Operational Support Airlift in Decatur will be July 3 at 9 a.m. at Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield, Ill.

The unit will train for a brief time in Fort Bliss, Texas before deploying to Africa for nine months. Det. 36 will fly Beechcraft C-12 Huron aircraft and conduct operational airlift support and VIP transport in the region.

The unit last mobilized in October 2010 and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

PARIS, IL (06/28/2014)(readMedia)--

WHO: • Illinois Army National Guard's 1544th Transportation Company in Paris, Ill.

WHAT: • Approximately 120 Soldiers with the 1544th Transportation Company in Paris, Illinois were prepared to mobilize in October 2014 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan.

• The unit's deployment has been cancelled roughly four months prior to the expected mobilization.

• The Illinois National Guard understands the added stress preparing for a mobilization puts on families and employers. The Illinois National Guard will help ensure the lives of Soldiers move forward with as little interruption as possible and will mitigate any issues Soldiers may have with employers, colleges, landlords or other such individuals notified about a possible mobilization.

• The 1544th Transportation Company has a long and well-documented history dating back to the Civil War. The unit originally organized in April of 1861 in Paris, Illinois, as Company E, 12th Illinois Volunteer Company, Illinois Militia. It has been activated for every major conflict since the Civil War including Operation Iraqi Freedom from November 2003 to June 2005.

CHAMPAIGN, IL (06/20/2014)(readMedia)-- The Illinois National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion recognized Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA) stations that stood out above their peers with a minuteman statue at the IBA 2014 Silver Dome Awards in Champaign, Illinois, June 18.

- WRHL, 102.3 "The Coyote" in Rochelle, Illinois was recognized as the National Guard Station of the Year for small market radio.

- WYMG, 100.5 "Springfield's Classic Rock" in Springfield, Illinois was recognized as the National Guard Station of the Year for medium market radio.

- WUSN, US99.5 in Chicago, Illinois was recognized as the National Guard Station of the Year for large market radio.

- WREX, NBC Channel 13 in Rockford, Illinois was recognized as the National Guard Station of the Year for medium market television.

- WMAQ, NBC Channel 5 in Chicago Illinois was recognized as the National Guard Station of the Year for large market television.

- Dana Communications was recognized as the Ownership Group Award winner.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (06/04/2014)(readMedia)-- PEORIA, Ill. - The Air National Guard (ANG) Band of the Midwest is scheduled to kick off a free summer concert series at the Glen Oak Park Amphitheatre at 7 p.m., June 7


The 566th Air Force Band based in Peoria, Illinois, will perform jazz, rock and concert music for audiences in Illinois and Wisconsin as part of their community relations tour before a grand finale in Minnesota, July 4.

Audiences can expect a world-class show with exciting and dynamic music, while hearing the story of the ANG and hometown heroes who serve in it, said Maj. Bryan Miller of Naperville, Illinois, commander and trumpet player.

The annual concert series is the result of a year's worth of training and practice, one the band uses to celebrate patriotism with communities across the Midwest.

"I am proud to have my job and to be part of the ANG, so I look forward to being able to showcase that pride each summer on tour," said Senior Airman Sarah Carlson of Brookfield, Illinois, a euphonium and trombone player.

Senior Airman Justin Ahlberg of Galesburg, Illinois, percussion and saxophone player, said it is an opportunity for the band to put on a great performance and entertain the civilian and military communities, while spreading the message of the ANG's and United States Air Force's services.

"These performances are typically outdoor concerts in the park and attract all age groups, including many veterans and their families," said Senior Master Sgt. Greg Koger of Streamwood, Illinois, the band manager and bugler. "Then we send them home with a rousing patriotic music set, ending the show with 'God Bless the USA,' 'The Armed Services Medley,' and of course, John Philip Sousa's 'Stars and Stripes Forever.'"

All are invited to attend the following performances:

June 7 at 7 p.m. - Glen Oak Park Amphitheatre, Peoria, Illinois.

June 28 at 3 p.m. - City Park Summer Fun Fest, Oglesby, Illinois.

June 29 at 6:30 p.m. - Grundy County Courtyard Lawn, Morris, Illinois.

July 2 at 7 p.m. - City Park Band Shell, Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

July 3 at 7 p.m. - Barker's Island Festival Park, Superior, Wisconsin

July 4 at 4:30 and 6:45 p.m. - Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth, Minnesota.

More information about the ANG Band of the Midwest can be found at and on Facebook at ANG Band of the Midwest (566th AFB).

For additional information, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at

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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 -30-