Michael Zerbonia of Chatham to Be Promoted to Brigadier General

SPRINGFIELD, IL (06/04/2013)(readMedia)-- Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, has appointed Col. Michael Zerbonia of Chatham, Ill., as the Illinois National Guard's Land Forces Commander.

The appointment means Zerbonia will also be promoted to brigadier general and will command approximately 10,000 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers.

"Our Soldiers deserve the best possible leadership and Colonel Zerbonia is one of our best leaders," said Krumrei. "He is a strategic thinker and planner, and his value to this organization and to the people of Illinois grows each day."

Zerbonia has more than 30 years of military service. He enlisted as a military policeman in the Missouri National Guard in 1983 and commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1986. He recently commanded the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A10 in Afghanistan and previously commanded the 108th Sustainment Brigade based in Chicago.

Zerbonia is the Colonel of Operations for the Illinois State Police.

"Michael has spent decades in uniform serving the Illinois State Police and the U.S. military dedicating his career to service and honor," said Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau. "His commitment to leadership and duty is further exemplified by this added badge of rank, and the men and women of this agency are proud of his accomplishment."

During the severe winter storm in Februrary 2011, Zerbonia saw his State Police Troopers and his Soldiers work side-by-side after National Guard Soldiers were activated to help the State Police mitigate the effects of the storm.

"My two careers coincided directly then. While both organizations have different roles to play, both go out and protect the citizens of Illinois," said Zerbonia. "It is a great honor to be a leader in both."

Zerbonia holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Northeast Missouri State University and a master's degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. As a civilian, Zerbonia also serves as the president of the National Guard Association of Illinois.

He said every leadership position he's held in the National Guard has prepared him to be the Land Forces Commander and he looks forward to the challenge.

"One of the number one missions for the National Guard is homeland security and that dovetails perfectly with what I do with the Illinois State Police," said Zerbonia.

June 8 Ceremony Recognizes 633rd Theater Gateway Personnel Accountability Team

SPRINGFIELD, IL (06/04/2013)(readMedia)-- Approximately 10 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers will be recognized June 8 by the National Guard Bureau Freedom Salute Campaign for their sacrifice and service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ceremony for the 633rd Theater Gateway Personnel Accountability Team based in Springfield will be 10 a.m. at Camp Lincoln; 1301 MacArthur Blvd. in Springfield.

The Soldiers mobilized in June 2012 and deployed to Kuwait. The 633rd was the first National Guard unit mobilized to provide operational control over the Theater Gateway at Ali Al Salem, Kuwait.

Soldiers were responsible for the initial reception, staging and onward movement of personnel deploying to the Central Command area of responsibility (CENTCOM AOR). The 633rd also coordinated the reception, lodging and movement of personnel from all branches for the rest and recuperation leave, emergency leave, and temporary duty in the CENTCOM AOR.

The team processed more than 40,000 deploying or redeploying troops. They also processed more than 35,000 individuals participating in the Theater Rest and Recuperation Leave program and issued more than 1,200 identification cards.

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., June 7 to be granted access onto Camp Lincoln. For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.

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PEORIA, IL (05/31/2013)(readMedia)-- The 182nd Airlift Wing will be presented the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service AT 8:15 a.m. June 1 at the Illinois Air National Guard Armory 2416 South Falcon Blvd., in Peoria.

This will mark the sixth time the 182nd has received the award in the last decade.

The 182nd Airlift Wing employs more than 1,100 citizen-Airmen, many from communities throughout the Peoria-metropolitan area. The wing has been proud to call Peoria its home since 1946.

In his citation, Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, applauded the unit for accomplishing its mission with a maximum degree of war readiness during a two-year time period between Oct. 1, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2012. The wing was noted specifically for reducing the enemy forces' fighting capability and for actions that saved the lives of coalition forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. During this time, the same C-130 Hercules aircraft routinely seen over the skies of Peoria completed more than 3,300 combat missions, all while maintaining an exceptional 94.7 percent mission-capable rate.

According to the Air Force Personnel Center, the Outstanding Unit Award is bestowed to units that display exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets

the unit above and apart. Prerequisites for the award include performance of exceptionally meritorious service, accomplishment of a specific outstanding achievement of national or international significance, combat operations against an armed enemy of the United States, or military operations involving conflict with, or exposure, to hostile actions by an opposing foreign force.

The award ceremony will commence at 8:15 a.m. Media should confirm attendance prior to the event by contacting Maj. Bill Soddy at 309-633-5253 or William.Soddy@ang.af.mil. Attending media should plan to arrive at 7:45 a.m.

Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti Retires from the Illinois National Guard After Four Decades; Story by Mike Chrisman, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

SPRINGFIELD, IL (05/29/2013)(readMedia)-- Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti of Springfield has always made time for both his military and civilian family. After 41 years, he is saying farewell to his family in the Illinois Army National Guard.

"He holds a strong bond to family life. His ability to manage the busy life of the Guard and then take time to spend time with all of us is unbelievable," said Celletti's only son, Maj. Jason Celletti of Springfield, Ill., with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Urbana. "As a father and grandfather he is very committed to ensure that he is at events like football games, volleyball games and even just the family cook outs."

Celletti commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1976 and will retire May 31 as the Assistant Adjutant General-Army for the Illinois National Guard.

"In order to be a professional, you have to have a professional career and my wife and family have always understood that and been very supportive and that makes it easier to balance," Celletti said. "When I have had time, I have gone out of my way to have family time and that's important."

Jason said his dad always taught him the Illinois Army National Guard was a family that instills the common threads of commitment, service, dedication and caring. While his dad was extremely busy with work, Jason said he always found time to attend sporting events and volunteer with the Boy Scouts.

Jason said the birth of his daughter Milana brought out a side of the general that many never see.

"The strong, stern major general just melts in her hands," Jason said. "Just the other night she was coloring in her book and like any 2-year old, she missed the page. Sure enough it put a big green streak on the white carpet. What would have been a scold or life lesson for me, for her it was; 'Oh it will wash out, no big deal.'"

Celletti admits his granddaughter tugs at his heart.

"I've missed a lot of family time in my career and it makes you enjoy the precious times even more," Celletti said. "Others have said kids bring out a side of me that most people haven't seen before."

There are many experiences that stand out to Celletti during his career. However, the proudest moments involve his family and watching his son grow as a Soldier and leader.

"I am proud of my son because he has made all of the decisions on his own," he said. "He made all the right decisions and he is right where he needs to be and doing well. I am proud of him, but he is not following in my footsteps. He is making his own way through a professional organization doing what he wants to do."

Celletti became the first Assistant Adjutant General in Illinois history to achieve the rank of major general. He has served in the position since 2005 and advises the Adjutant General on all matters pertaining to the Illinois Army National Guard and its 10,000 Soldiers.

"I feel proud, but it's not about what I have done. It's about what we have done and accomplished as an organization," Celletti said. "We are a solid team. Everyone has the same goals and objectives. I hope I look back in 10 years and still see that we have the same attitude. That is what makes us the Guard."

Celletti grew up in Sterling, Ill., and followed several generations of family who donned a uniform.

"I saw what they did for our country and I felt the need to serve," Celletti said. "Our military is one percent of the population. If you break it down, it goes generation to generation of families serving. It's patriotism built in the genes and it keeps carrying on."

Over his lengthy career, Celletti made a lot of special connections across Illinois. However, the relationship he built in Woodstock, Ill., was different than many others. Company D, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry in Woodstock lost four Soldiers when it deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 to 2009.

"I had the honor of working with several of the Gold Star families," Celletti said. "They are now part of the Illinois National Guard family and we will not forget their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice to our nation."

Mark Greenleaf of Woodstock worked with Celletti several times when Celletti visited Woodstock and praised the general for his commitment to the military and community.

"You don't have to serve with Major General Celletti to understand how much he cares for the men and women in his command; a civilian like me could see it," Greenleaf said. 'We're very grateful for the visits he made here when our Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, when they returned from combat, and to honor our local veterans, our military families and our fallen. After his 40 years of distinguished service, I wish him a happy and well-earned retirement."

Over the course of a career, many individuals influenced Celletti and made him the leader he is today. Col. (ret.) Ray Perry of Springfield, Ill., was the commander of the 106th Cavalry in Rock Falls when Celletti first commissioned as a second lieutenant 37 years ago. Perry said he knew Celletti was going to be a solid leader for the Illinois National Guard.

"He was one of the hardest workers I have ever had in my formations," Perry said. "He did the best he could do and always stood up for what was right. He has become an amazing leader."

Celletti said some of the toughest assignments he had in his career have been when he was in command of a unit.

"It's tough when you are in the position, but looking back it was worth it to know Soldiers respected you and do what you want," he said. "They're doing it because they respect you."

Jason said his dad was a great leader, but his leadership is the reason the Illinois Army National Guard won't miss a beat when he retires.

"He once told me that if you do your job as a leader and trainer, then you will have full confidence in the Soldiers that will fill your shoes," Jason said.

Celletti's advice to young servicemembers is to never stop learning and always strive to improve. He also stressed the importance of looking after the people who are important.

"Take care of your family and fellow Soldiers and Airmen by doing the right thing and they will take care of you," he said.

Celletti has numerous awards including the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal.

Celletti jokingly said the top three things he plans to do when he retires are: golf, golf and more golf with some trips in the RV and occasional work in his woodshop.

"After several months together with my wife Kathy, I know she will make me do something to keep me busy and her sane," Celletti said. "So, until then, I may look for some good retirement job just to keep my mind sharp, but a job with a lot of flexibility to still do number one, number two and number three on my list."


SPRINGFIELD, IL (05/16/2013)(readMedia)-- The Illinois State Military Museum and the Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society's Living History Detachment observed Armed Forces Day May on 18 with special exhibits, equipment displays and demonstrations by re-enactors in period uniforms.

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 Blvd. and North Grand Ave. in Springfield, Ill., the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 1-4:30 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/.

For additional information, please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs office at 217-761-3569.

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SPRINGFIELD, IL (05/14/2013)(readMedia)-- The Illinois Army National Guard is among the nation's leaders taking advantage of a U. S. Military Academy at West Point program that sets aside 85 appointments to the academy for enlisted Army National Guard or Army Reserve Soldiers.

At least five Illinois National Guard Soldiers have secured seats at West Point, with a sixth Soldier, Pfc. Jacob Weiss of Sherman, receiving a Congressional appointment to the academy. This currently ties the Illinois Army National Guard with the Georgia Army National Guard for the most appointments to West Point this year, said Lt. Col. Mark Alessia, of Sherman, the Recruiting and Retention Commander for the Illinois Army National Guard.

"We look at this as a short-term loss, but a long-term gain," Alessia said. "It is a loss because the Illinois National Guard is giving up outstanding enlisted Soldiers to the academy and the active Army, but it is a gain because these same individuals will represent the National Guard, throughout their military career."

Other West Point graduates may learn about the Illinois Army National Guard through these officers as well.

The program, dubbed "Operation Opportunity," recognizes "outstanding junior enlisted Soldiers who demonstrate the ideals and values of the Corps of Cadets - Duty, Honor, and Country," according to Lt. Col. Mark A. Boettcher, the Chief of the Army National Guard's Strength Maintenance Division.

To be eligible for the program, a Soldier must be a U.S. citizen, at least 17 years old, no older than 22 years old on July 1, 2014, unmarried, and have no legal obligation to support a dependent. The Soldier must also be a high school graduate or pass the General Educational Development test, be eligible for re-enlistment, have completed basic combat training and be recommended by his or her company commander. The student must have SAT scores of 500 or higher or ACT scores of 20 or higher.

West Point is among the nation's top institutions producing more Rhodes Scholars than any other college or university in the country except Harvard, Princeton and Yale. It has produced more winners of the Hertz Fellowship than all other schools except Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But unlike those other prestigious institutions, the U.S. Army pays for all tuition, room, board, books, uniforms, medical and dental care, training costs and pay for its West Point cadets. A West Point education is valued at more than $300,000.

Operation Opportunity is particularly valuable because it exponentially increases a Soldier's chances of acceptance to West Point. Each year, West Point receives some 12,000 applications. Only about 1,200 are accepted, including those 85 slots set aside for National Guard or Reserve Soldiers. Soldiers meeting the eligibility requirements may start the initial application by going online at www.usma.edu/applynow.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (05/08/2013)(readMedia)-- The Illinois National Guard will celebrate its 290th birthday. The Illinois National Guard Command Historian, Adriana Schroeder of Springfield recently discovered evidence of the first muster of militia, the precursor to the Illinois National Guard. Re-enactor in period uniforms will demonstrate equipment and weapons from the 1700s and an official proclamation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn will be read during the ceremony.


• Brig. Gen. William Cobetto, Assistant Adjutant General -Air

• Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen

• Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society Living History Detachment

• School Children from throughout Sangamon County


• The Illinois National Guard will celebrate its 290th birthday.

• The birth date of the Illinois National Guard, May 9, 1723 was determined last year after months of research by Adriana Schroeder of Springfield, the Illinois National Guard Command Historian.

• An official proclamation of the birthday, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, will be read during the ceremony.

• Re-enactors from the Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society's Living History Detachment in period uniforms will display uniforms, equipment and weapon from the 1700s.

WHEN: Thursday May 09, 2013 at 01:00PM Central Time (US & Canada)

WHERE:Illinois State Military Museum
1301 N. MacArthur Blvd
Springfield, Illinois 62702

NORTH RIVERSIDE, IL (05/07/2013)(readMedia)-- Approximately 20 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers who served in Sinai, Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) will return home this week. The 708th Medical Company based in North Riverside will have their homecoming ceremony at 1 p.m. May 8. The ceremony is scheduled to take place at the North Riverside National Guard Armory, 8660 W. Cermak Road.

This is the second half of a 45-man team that mobilized in July 2012 and deployed to Sinai, Egypt after training for a brief time at Camp Atterbury, Ind. The rest of the unit returned home April 29.

The 708th was split into two teams, running operations out of two separate camps approximately 250 miles apart on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt and surrounding areas in Egypt and Israel. The unit provided a full-range of medical, dental, physical therapy and preventative medicine services to more than 2,500 personnel from 14 countries who are part of the MFO. Within the medical clinics, 708th Soldiers worked with providers from the United States, Fiji, Columbia, Uruguay, Hungary and Italy.

708th personnel responded to four mass casualty incidents in a three-month period where they were required to provide expedient, quality care to the patients brought in for treatment. Overall, 40 patients were treated during those four incidents.

The unit also assisted in ensuring food-borne illnesses and the spread of diseases did not affect personnel in the area after a water shortage in October. When water returned to the region, water in the new wells was sampled to ensure the water was safe for consumption.

Because of their outstanding support, the 708th personnel and their medical clinics were nominated for the Army Superior Unit Award. Soldiers in the unit also received awards and coins from several general officers including Gen. Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff for the Army.

The MFO is an international peacekeeping force that oversees the terms of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. For three decades the MFO has carried out its mission and has proven successful. The desire of peace on the part of both Israel and Egypt, combined with the effectiveness of the MFO, has resulted in a durable and lasting state of peace between the two nations.

Twelve nations (Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of the Fiji Islands, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, the United States and Uruguay) contribute contingents to make up the MFO's force.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (02/27/2013)(readMedia)-- Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei of Springfield will assume command of the Illinois National Guard from U.S. Congressman (Maj. Gen., retired) William L. Enyart of Belleville in a traditional military change of command ceremony March 2, at 11 a.m.


• Illinois National Guard

• Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei, 38th Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard

• U.S. Congressman (Maj. Gen., retired) William L. Enyart


• Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei of Springfield will assume command of the Illinois National Guard from U.S. Congressman (Maj. Gen., retired) William L. Enyart of Belleville in a traditional military change of command ceremony.

WHEN: Saturday March 02, 2013 at 11:00AM Central Time (US & Canada)

WHERE:Chatham Glenwood High School
1501 E. Plummer Blvd
Chatham, Illinois 62629

Nearly 20 Soldiers Mobilize Feb. 4 As Part of an Embedded Training Team

URBANA, IL (01/30/2013)(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) A11 will be Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Urbana Armory, 600 East University Ave. in Urbana.

The BEST Soldiers will spend approximately two months training at Camp Atterbury, Ind., 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 helping develop secure international relationships; while broadening their own experiences and developing their own military skills."

The team will assist the Afghan government to extend its authority across the country, perform security operations and help stabilize the war-torn nation. The Soldiers will also mentor and support the Afghan National Army and support Afghan government programs to disarm illegally armed groups.

News media attending the event should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony. For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.

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