SPRINGFIELD, IL (09/03/2013)(readMedia)--


• Illinois National Guard Chaplains


• Illinois National Guard Chaplains are hosting upcoming seminars to serve local faith-based organizations throughout Illinois.

• The training is designed to raise awareness among community religious leaders about the challenges faced by servicemembers and their families, with a focus on deployment-related issues such as anger management, suicide prevention, military marriages, and church and community support for the military.

• The training is open to clergy and laity interested in understanding and learning how to support servicemembers, veterans and their families.


Sept. 20 Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, 3001 Green Bay Road Building 4; N. Chicago (9 a.m.-3 p.m.)

Sept. 21 Faith Family Church, 704 N. Green Mount Road, Belleville, Ill. (9 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Oct. 2 General Jones Armory, 5200 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago (9 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Oct. 9 Joliet Armory, 2900 W. Jefferson St., Joliet (9 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Oct. 16 Illinois Military Academy, Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd.; Springfield (9 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Nearly 20 Soldiers mobilize Sept. 10 as part of an embedded training team

BLOOMINGTON, IL (09/03/2013)(readMedia)-- A deployment ceremony is scheduled for approximately 20 Soldiers who will deploy to Afghanistan as part of an embedded training team. The ceremony for the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A12 will be Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. at the Bloomington Armory, 1616 S. Main St. in Bloomington, Ill..

The BEST Soldiers will spend approximately two months training at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, N.J. and in Poland before deploying with the Polish Land Forces. The unique mission allows Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers to train and deploy side-by-side with their Polish counterparts. Following the training, the Soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan for a six-month mobilization. The Soldiers are from various parts of Illinois and were selected for the mission based on their training and skills.

"Our 20-year partnership with Poland is the strongest National Guard State Partnership in the nation," said Brig. Gen. Daniel Krumrei of Springfield, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "Illinois Soldiers and Airmen are instrumental in developing secure international relationships, while broadening their own experiences and developing their own military skills."

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/26/2013)(readMedia)-- The Illinois Army National Guard's 129th Regional Training Institute Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Camp Lincoln in Springfield commissioned 34 Soldiers as second lieutenants during the OCS graduation ceremony at Springfield High School, Aug. 25.

To meet the commissioning requirements, an officer candidate must complete more than 658 hours of classroom and field instruction. Candidates are evaluated on leadership abilities along with academics. They must also complete many physical and mental tasks, such as road marches and tactical exercises.

The 129th has commissioned 2,289 officers from the program.

The six newly commissioned accelerated program officers are:

2nd Lt. Dustin Anderson of Preemption, Ill., with Troop C, 2nd Battalion, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Aurora, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Robert Boney of St. Louis, with Company B, 33rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion in Bloomington, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Amanda Bruni of Troy, Ill., with Company C, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Springfield, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Jonathan Logemann of Lancaster, Wisc., with Detachment 1,1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Joliet, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Jonathan Miller of Macedonia, Ohio, with the 135th Chemical Company in Machesney Park, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Garrett Nevious of Marion, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Marion, Ill.

The 28 newly commissioned traditional program officers are:

• 2nd Lt. Matthew Bisesto of Aurora, Ill., with Company G, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Crestwood, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Tom Boas of Philo, Ill., with Detachment 1, 1544th Transportation Company in Danville, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Logan Burke of Nashville, Ill., with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in West Frankfort, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Jose Corona of Aurora, Ill., with the 135th Chemical Company in Machesney Park, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Amanda Day of Peoria, Ill., with the 233rd Military Police Company in Springfield, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Landon Foy of Park Forest, Ill., with the 1244th Transportation Company in North Riverside, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Trevor Garner of Hull, Ill., with the 661st Engineer Company in Sparta, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Jason Harrison of Lisle, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Chicago

• 2nd Lt. Wade Joiner of Edwardsville, Ill., with the 445th Chemical Company in Shiloh, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Dallin Jones of Paxton, Ill., with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Champaign, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Benjamin Klingberg of La Grange Park, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Chicago

• 2nd Lt. Adam Kowalski of Darien, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Peoria, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Brock Kowske of Chicago, with Company B, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Elgin, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Simon Lee of Chicago, with the 1744th Transportation Company in Crestwood, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Justin Lipes of Roseville, Ill., with Company A, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Bartonville, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Kirby McKee of Huntley, Ill., with Company D, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Woodstock, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Doreen Misiorek of Springfield, Ill., with the 766th Engineer Company in Decatur, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Brandon Nicol of Leroy, Ill., with Company E, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment in Peoria, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Monica Perez of Mount Prospect, Ill., with the 933rd Military Police Company in Fort Sheridan, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Peter Pogwizd of Chicago, with Troop B, 2nd Battalion, 106th Cavalry Regiment in Dixon, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Robert Reif of Wauconda, Ill., with Company A, 405th Brigade Support Battalion in Streator, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Antonio Reyes of Chicago, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Chicago

• 2nd Lt. Greg Romanek of Franklin Park, Ill., with Company B, 341st Military Intelligence Battalion 33rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion in Bloomington, Ill.

2nd Lt. John Schaaf of Moline, Ill., with Company A, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment in Bartonville, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Erin Speck of LaGrange, Ill., with the 333rd Military Police Company in Freeport, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. Keith Stewart of Ursa, Ill., with the 661st Engineer Company in Sparta, Ill.

2nd Lt. Jessica Sucic of Moline, Ill., with 2nd Battalion, 123rd Forward Support Company in Milan, Ill.

• 2nd Lt. David Wachtveitl of Springfield, Ill., with Company C, 341st Military Intelligence Battalion, 33rd Brigade Support Battalion in Carbondale, Ill.

Outstanding OCS graduates were awarded the following:

• The Leadership Award was awarded to 2nd Lt. Monica Perez of Mount Prospect, Ill., for the highest overall leadership evaluation score over the entire OCS program

• The Physical Fitness Award was awarded to 2nd Lt. Jessica Sucic of Moline, Ill., for the highest average score on the OCS Army Physical Fitness Test

• The Academic Award was awarded to 2nd Lt. Matthew Bisesto of Aurora, Ill., for holding the highest academic average in the class.

• Three Soldiers received honors. The honor award is a calculation of peer evaluations, leadership evaluations, academic evaluations and physical fitness, determining the top three overall officer candidates.

• The third honor was awarded to 2nd Lt. John Schaaf of Moline, Ill., for maintaining the third highest course average

• The second honor was awarded to 2nd Lt. Monica Perez of Mount Prospect, Ill., for maintaining the second highest course average

• The Erickson Trophy was awarded to 2nd Lt. Jessica Sucic of Moline, Ill., for holding the highest academic average in the class and she is also the class distinguished honor graduate.

Aug. 17 ceremony recognizes Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A10

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/13/2013)(readMedia)-- Approximately 20 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers will be recognized Aug. 17 by the National Guard Bureau Freedom Salute Campaign for their sacrifice and service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ceremony for the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (BEST) A10 will be at 10 a.m. Camp Lincoln, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield.

The BEST A10 Soldiers were mobilized in August 2012 and returned May 16.

The team was part of Task Force White Eagle XII, which included more than 2,500 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from the U.S. and Poland. The task force was assigned two missions in preparation for the drawdown of coalition forces in 2014. The primary mission was to develop the Afghan Soldiers and Afghan law enforcement personnel to provide their citizens with civil and national security. Secondly, the combined U.S./Polish Task Force was tasked with transporting 10 years of war material out of their assigned area of responsibility as a key component of the eventual drawdown.

Task Force White Eagle/BEST A10 completed more than 1,600 tactical operations that ranged from clearing the roads of improvised explosive devices (IED) and humanitarian aid to neutralizing high-profile insurgent leadership. These operations resulted in finding and clearing 34 IEDs and 21 former Soviet high-explosive munitions. The Soldiers of the task force uncovered 35 insurgent weapons cache's that housed over a ton of various caliber weapon ammunition, 30 semi/automatic weapons and more than 45,000 pounds of homemade explosives. Task Force White Eagle was engaged in more than 300 firefights and five IED strikes. The combined efforts of the Polish Soldiers and Illinois Guardsmen yielded the capture of more than 80 insurgents, which included more than one dozen high-profile insurgent leaders.

The Freedom Salute Campaign program is a small way to show these patriotic citizen-Soldiers, their families and employers how much their sacrifice is appreciated. On behalf of the National Guard Bureau, the Illinois Army National Guard will present each eligible Soldier with an encased American flag, as well as a sequentially-numbered commemorative coin, certificate of appreciation and lapel pin. Families will also receive items recognizing their support and sacrifice.

The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history. It is designed to publicly acknowledge Army National Guard Soldiers and those who supported them while deployed.

News media attending the event should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony and should notify the Public Affairs Office by 3 p.m., Aug. 16 to be granted access onto Camp Lincoln. For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.

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SPRINGFIELD, IL (07/23/2013)(readMedia)-- A U.S. Soldier takes cover behind a bullet-riddled brick wall, holding his Thompson submachine gun against his right leg as he reloads. Behind him, another U.S. Soldier in a muddy uniform uses the barrel of his M-1 Garand rifle to nudge open the front door of a house.

This scene is the focus of a new display in the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield and aims to take visitors back to the villages of Europe in 1944.

"This display puts you right in the middle of a village alongside Illinois Soldiers during World War II. You get a taste of the tension that Soldiers feel," said Bill Lear, the museum curator who designed the display and supervised its construction and installation on the second floor of the museum.

Lear is an Illinois Army National Soldier who served in Afghanistan with the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team during its 2009 deployment, the largest single deployment of Illinois National Guard personnel since World War II.

The museum shows the history of the Illinois National Guard from its days as a French militia in 1723 to its current service in Iraq and Afghanistan. This scene expands the museum's World War II section.

"We have another life-sized display showing Illinois Soldiers landing on a Pacific island and we have an interactive computer kiosk that lets visitors select World War II information from a menu of choices. There are also displays showing U.S. weapons and captured German and Japanese weapons and equipment," Lear said.

The new street scene is the result of the generosity of the 84th Division Railsplitter Association, a group of World War II veterans, and the Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society, a nonprofit organization that supports the museum's programs. The Railsplitter Association contributed funds to the Historical Society that in turn bought the mannequins, uniforms, signage and construction materials and hired the labor to build the display, said Lear.

"We've lived in freedom because of the service and sacrifice of the Railsplitters and servicemembers like them during World War II. And now, thanks to the Railsplitters and the Historical Society, the military museum can continue to tell the story of the Illinois members of the greatest generation," said retired Illinois National Guard Brig. Gen. Stewart Reeve, director of the Illinois State Military Museum.

The Illinois State Military Museum displays the history of the Illinois National Guard from 1723 to the 21st Century. Located two blocks north of the intersection of MacArthur Boulevard and North Grand Avenue in Springfield, Ill., the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For further information about the museum call (217) 761-3910 or visit http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/museum/ . Like the museum on Facebook at www.facebook.Illinois.State.Military.Museum. To learn more about Illinois National Guard history visit http://www.il.ngb.army.mil/History/.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (07/16/2013)(readMedia)-- By Staff Sgt. Bryan Spreitzer, Task Force White Eagle Public Affairs Liaison and Sgt. Robert R. Adams, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Sixteen Illinois National Guard Soldiers were presented unit insignia from the Polish 25th Air Cavalry Brigade (ACB) June 22 in Afghanistan.

The unit insignia of the 25th ACB was awarded to the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A11 (BEST A11) Soldiers. This unit insignia has never been awarded to a non-Polish servicemember. The BEST mission is liaison support with the staff of Polish Task Force White Eagle in Ghazni. The Illinois Soldiers are partnered with the 25th Air Cavalry Brigade of Tomaszow Mazowiecki, commanded by Brig. Gen. Marek Sokolowski.

Sokolowski said the 25th is a close knit, uniquely ran brigade. The decision to bestow such an honor on the embedded Soldiers was an easy one to make, he said.

"We are all family here in Ghazni," said Sokolowski. "My Illinois Soldiers display the pride and honor of a fellow 25th Soldier."

Col. Christopher Lawson of Chatham, Ill., Deputy U.S. Commander of Task Force White Eagle and BEST A11 Commander, has worked with the Polish since 1994.

"The Polish Armed Forces have a proud tradition of service and sacrifice," said Lawson. "The 25th Air Calvary Brigade is an elite air mobile infantry unit that has high standards and expectations of its members. To be recognized as one of its members is the highest honor and I am humbled by this recognition," said Lawson.

Maj. Darren Horton of Springfield, Ill., U.S. Contracting and Personnel Officer for Task Force White Eagle is in the process of getting the insignia authorized for wear as a combat badge.

"I am working with Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Virginia to request approval for our team to wear the 25th Air Cavalry Brigade's insignia as a combat badge on our dress uniforms," said Horton. "Working for a Polish Brigade has been a unique and incredible experience and it would be an honor to be authorized to wear the combat badge of the Polish 25th ACB, which has performed so remarkably."

Horton said it will most likely be a lengthy process and a challenge to get approved, but the great experience of serving with the 25th ACB is well worth it.

With the award of the 25th's unit insignia, the 16-man team from Illinois will forever be a part of the Polish 25th Air Cavalry Brigade and the Polish Land Forces. The team says its deployment experience has been very unique, and an once-in-a-lifetime moment the men of the BEST A11 will cherish for the rest of their lives. The BEST A11 is expected to be back in Illinois around Christmas.

Two Soldiers recognized as honor graduates

SPRINGFIELD, IL (07/16/2013)(readMedia)-- Story by Sgt. Kassidy L. Snyder, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

Three Illinois Guardsmen graduated from the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA) June 21 at the 127th Aviation Support Battalion Hangar on East Fort Bliss, Texas.

Master Sgt. Mary Dixon of Chapin, Ill., with the 129th Regiment (Regional Training Institute) in Springfield, Ill., Master Sgt. Anthony Mollusky Jr. of Kincaid, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 108th Sustainment Brigade in Chicago and Master Sgt. Christopher Tipton of Springfield, Ill., with Joint Force Headquarters in Springfield, Ill., were among the 648 graduates.

Only 20 graduates were National Guardsmen, while most were active duty Army. Mollusky and Dixon were in the top 20 percent of the class and recognized as honor graduates.

"There was a great sense of accomplishment in exceeding the course standards," said Dixon. "Few National Guardsmen have an opportunity to attend the resident Sergeants Major Academy, and I am grateful for the chance to prove that National Guardsmen are an integral part of the fighting force."

The USASMA residence course is a 10-month-long class that provides tools to develop critical reasoning, creative thinking and decision-making skills. Soldiers are provided an education that teaches them to enhance their character, self-expression and strengthen teamwork abilities. The USASMA is also offered as a nonresident course which culminates with two weeks of resident instruction at the academy.

"I highly recommend the resident course," said Dixon. "It is a fantastic opportunity to develop long-term relationships with senior leaders from across the Army, as well as our sister services and international partners."

Mollusky also noted it was a great opportunity to concentrate on the curriculum on a full-time basis rather than spending nights and weekends doing homework.

The course prepares master sergeants and sergeants major to elevate from a tactical level of thinking to an operational and strategic perspective.

"It was very demanding with many writing assignments, tests and oral presentations," said Mollusky. "We heard presentations from every major combatant command and major agency in the Army."

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno was the guest speaker for graduating class 63 and reminded the graduates to "Never forget what our most important aspect of the Army is, our Soldiers."

More than 120,000 Soldiers have graduated from USASMA since it was founded in July 1972.

"Commit yourself to the philosophy of lifelong learning," said Tipton. "If you've been thinking about that next military school, then get after it. The more you open yourself up to various avenues and environments of learning, the better it helps you become a critical thinker and problem solver."

Homecoming Set for June 15 for Fort Sheridan-Based National Guard Unit

CHICAGO, IL (06/13/2013)(readMedia)-- Approximately 130 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers who served in Afghanistan will return home this weekend. The 933rd Military Police Company (MP) based at Fort Sheridan will have their homecoming ceremony at 7:30 a.m. June 15 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago (see directions below).

The unit was mobilized Aug. 7, 2012 and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The company worked with Special Forces troops in Afghanistan; therefore much of their mission is classified. 933rd Soldiers were spread across four remote combat posts in Afghanistan completing missions such as guard operations and prison escort.

Six Soldiers earned Bronze Stars, 76 troops earned Army Commendation Medals, 42 earned the Army Achievement Medals and 19 Soldiers received Combat Action Badges.

During their deployment, 10 Soldiers missed the birth of their babies and will see their infants for the first time at their homecoming ceremony.

"The deployment was successful because of the great American Soldiers in the 933rd Military Police Company," said Capt. Thomas Gilligan of Bolingbrook, 933rd commander. "These Soldiers selflessly gave up the comfort of their homes to defend freedom in a foreign land far away from their families and friends. We will forever be grateful."

The 933rd is relatively new to the Fort Sheridan community. In late 2010, the unit moved from Waukegan to a new $30 million readiness center at Fort Sheridan, which offers more opportunities for state-of-the-art training.

The 933rd was one of the first Illinois National Guard units deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was mobilized from February 2003 to July 2004. The unit also has a proud history of service with mobilizations in support of Desert Storm in 1990 and fighting in the Pacific alongside Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines that earned a unit award for gallantry from the Philippine President for serving from 1943 to 1945. Soldiers in the 933rd also fought in World War I, earning a unit award for bravery and honor in battle in 1918.

News media attending the event should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. Please contact the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Media Relations Office at (773) 686-3700 if you plan to cover the event. For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569 or email us at ng.il.ilarng.list.staff-pao@mail.mil.

Directions: Intersection of Patton Drive and Schlitz Road at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago is the ceremony location.

The easiest way to get there is exit to O'Hare toward the main terminal and go toward the rental car return area. The rental car return area is on Bessie Coleman Drive, which runs north and south and visitors will be traveling north. A large salt dome is on the intersection of Schlitz and Bessie Coleman. Turn left onto Schlitz.

295 Cadets to Graduate with GED June 15 at Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, IL (06/12/2013)(readMedia)-- Listening to Lincoln's Challenge Cadets talk about their experience in the structured, quasi-military academy in Rantoul, Ill., a common theme emerges from the nearly 300 young men and women who are about to graduate June 15.

"This place saved my live," said Cadet Javier Campos, 18, from Grayslake, Ill.

"If I didn't complete this, I know I wouldn't complete anything else in life," said Cadet Erin Keegan, 17, of Downers Grove, Ill., and the salutatorian of the class graduating on June 15.

Lincoln's Challenge Academy (LCA) is an Illinois National Guard-administered launching platform for Illinois' at-risk youth that provides Cadets with essential life skills and educational requirements to be successful in today's society. Since LCA began in 1993 as a pilot program, more than 13,000 Cadets have graduated with more than 75 percent earning a GED, making it the most successful Youth Challenge program in the nation.

While both Campos and Keegan said the 22-week residential phase of LCA has given them renewed confidence and instilled improved self-discipline and work ethic, they acknowledge the program is not for everyone.

"This program doesn't work for 100 percent of people, but those few people that take everything to heart and that listen and that learn, they will go places," said Campos.

Keegan, who scored a 3,800 out of 4,000 on the GED exam, the second highest score ever for an LCA Cadet, said being successful at LCA depends on the individual.

"A few things play into it. First is personality and how the individual's personality fits with the military lifestyle. Second is your willingness to change," said Keegan.

LCA is completely voluntary and Cadets can quit the program at any time. Cadets come from different backgrounds, from 115 communities across the state, and for various reasons.

Campos said he was estranged from his mother, living on his own, and performing poorly in school when his Grayslake Central High School dean arranged a meeting with his mother in the dean's office to suggest LCA as an option to get Campos back on track.

"He sat us down to talk and I asked my mother if we could forgive each other. It didn't work out and she left," said Campos. "I sat there in shock. I broke down and felt like I had nobody. The dean said 'you need to trust me, this is something you need to do.'"

Other Cadets were good students and involved in their high school, but strained relationships with their parents led them to LCA.

"When I found out my mom made the decision to send me to Lincoln's Challenge, all I could think about was my Downers Grove South High School teachers and my friends, my cap and gown, my class ring," said Keegan. "To not get to walk across the stage and receive my diploma, to leave that behind was hard. Now, I know it was the right choice. Without LCA I couldn't have learned what I've learned-self discipline-but I still miss Downers Grove South."

If the Cadets had found life to be a challenge before LCA, the challenge that awaited them at the academy proved to be cathartic.

"It was a shock. I had seen military situations on TV and, before I got here, I thought 'I'm big stuff, this will be easy." said Campos. "I was confronted with not only physical challenges, but also emotional challenges. The Cadre tell you how it is. They've been through what we've been through. They're honest and you can relate to them."

During the residential phase Cadets get a $10 per week allowance and, like most high schools, have an array of extracurricular opportunities including yearbook, student council, intramural sports, chorus and band. After the residential phase, the 12-month post-resident phase pairs the Cadets with mentors in their communities to provide positive, continued support. On average, after graduation 49 percent of Cadets go on to get jobs, 34 percent attend college, 12 percent join the military and 5 percent pursue other opportunities.

Keegan plans to study creative writing and performing arts at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. Campos plans to enlist in the Marine Corps and specialize in military intelligence.

Both said they would recommend LCA to young people they see fit.

"Definitely," said Keegan. "I made the right choice. Staying at home I wouldn't have gained the necessary skills for the real world...self-discipline, time management, motivation for life. My habits are much better than they used to be."

Approximately 295 Cadets will graduate from the 40th Lincoln's Challenge Academy class June 15 at 11 a.m. at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (06/04/2013)(readMedia)-- Governor Pat Quinn appointed Brig. Gen. Richard J. Hayes of Buffalo Grove as the Assistant Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard on June 3.

As assistant adjutant general, Hayes will serve as the principal assistant to The Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei in all mat¬ters pertaining to supervision and management of the Illinois Department of Military Affairs and the Illinois National Guard, which consists of 13,000 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen.

"Brig. Gen. Richard Hayes is a leader both in the Illinois National Guard and in the private sector," Governor Quinn said. "His experience and commitment to his state and nation will be invaluable as he embarks on this mission to help lead the Illinois National Guard and its 13,000 Citizen Soldiers and Airmen."

Hayes has been an Army officer for 26 years. He led the Illinois National Guard's assistance to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, deployed to Kosovo to assist with peacekeeping operations, and leads all of the Illinois National Guard's domestic operations. He has also been a successful business leader. He currently serves as a senior executive with a large engineering and construction concern based in Lisle, Ill.

"General Hayes' acumen as a businessman will be a great benefit to the Illinois National Guard as we continue to get stronger despite limited finances," said Brig. Gen. Krumrei. "He is a leader who listens to his subordinates and makes wise decisions based on all the available information. That's a vital skill both in the military and in the private sector."

Hayes was commissioned in 1987 from the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Kansas and joined the Illinois National Guard in 1989. Since 1989 he has served in various positions within the field artillery, infantry, and joint force headquarters. On Saturday, Hayes was awarded his second Legion of Merit for his service as Commander of the Illinois National Guard's 129th Regional Training Institute. The Legion of Merit is the U.S. military's sixth highest award.

"I take pride in leaving every organization that I've led better than it was when I arrived," Hayes said. "It is really the people in those organizations that make the positive changes. At the end of the day, leading is really about influencing, building consensus and empowering people."