GALESBURG, IL (12/20/2012)(readMedia)-- Christmas is coming early for approximately 115 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers who served in Kuwait and will return to Illinois this weekend. The homecoming ceremony for the 444th Chemical Company will be Dec. 22 at 11 a.m. at the Galesburg National Guard Armory, 362 N. Linwood Road in Galesburg.

The Soldiers were mobilized in February and trained for a brief time at Camp Shelby, Miss., before deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Stationed at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, the unit operated as a base command cell supporting units stationed at the base and operations in the region.

The command cell implemented base improvements that saved more than $500,000 in government contracts and increased the billeting capability of Camp Virginia by more than 4,000 Soldiers. The 444th was instrumental in transitioning Camp Virginia from a short-term stop for Soldiers heading into theater into a long-term billeting area.

The 444th also conducted more than 3,000 patrols and secured 71 unexploded ordnances without loss of life or equipment.

Become our Facebook Fan!


Illinois State Military Museum Remembers, Re-Enacts Holidays in World War I Trenches

SPRINGFIELD, IL (12/05/2012)(readMedia)-- The Illinois State Military Museum's Living Historians will tell the story of World War I's 1914 Christmas truce and the Great War that changed illinois and the world. Dr. Chris McDonald, Lincoln Land Community College professor of political science will discuss the Christmas truce.


• Illinois State Military Museum

• Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society


Add to your Holiday season by sharing the experience of the 1914 Christmas truce of World War I. Walk the recreated trench and talk with Soldiers (from the State Military Museum Living History Detachment) about the Great War that changed Illinois and the world. Enjoy Christmas carols, hot beverages and donate to Toys for Tots.

WHEN: Tuesday December 18, 2012 at 06:00PM Central Time (US & Canada)

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


• Free coffee, hot cider or cocoa.

• Christmas carols with Springfield's own Sound Celebration.

• Learn about the 1914 Christmas truce through a short presentation by Dr. Chris McDonald, Lincoln Land Community College professor of political science.

• The museum is a collection site for the Toys for Tots program and will be accepting donations of unwrapped toys for local distribution this Christmas.

• Admission and parking are free.

For additional information, please contact the Illinois State Military Museum at 217-761-3910.

Become our Facebook Fan!

News from Illinois National Guard

For more information contact: National Guard PAO Illinois , (217) 761-3569,

National Native American Heritage Month 2012

SPRINGFIELD, IL (11/13/2012)(readMedia)-- --


• Illinois National Guard Equal Opportunity Office

• Dr. Joyce Surbeck-Harris


• Dr. Joyce Surbeck-Harris is half Eastern Cherokee & Northern Shoshone Indian. Over the past 30 years, she has studied with several traditional holy men and healers. Dr Joyce Surbeck-Harris has joined with two of her colleagues to develop a program for veterans with PTSD.


• Nov. 14, 10 a.m.


• IMA Auditorium, Camp Lincoln

1301 N MacArthur Blvd., Springfield, IL 62702-2399

CHICAGO, IL (11/08/2012)(readMedia)-- More than 250 non-profit, public and private leaders will gather at the Union League Club of Chicago to launch Illinois Joining Forces (IJF), a new statewide public-private partnership that will improve support for service members, veterans and their families.

Illinois Joining Forces will increase the collaboration and communication among non-profits and public agencies at the local, state and federal level. Through IJF, participating organizations will work together to address gaps in services, to actively refer veterans and service members in need of assistance, and to offer better navigation of available resources and service to the public.

The new collaborative online platform, will help IJF members to share information collaborate on project and facilitate referrals. With the active participation of IJF members, will also provide a user-friendly way for service members, veterans, and their families to find programs resources and events across the state.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (11/06/2012)(readMedia)-- The former director of the Illinois State Military Museum will assist the New Jersey National Guard Museum recover and preserve its artifacts affected by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent, widespread flooding.

Lt. Col. Mark Whitlock of Springfield said the New Jersey National Guard Museum's curator was looking for someone with experience assessing the restoration needs based on an artifact's condition to recover and stabilize the artifacts.

"I did this after hurricane Katrina in 2005," said Whitlock, who serves as the Illinois National Guard Command Historian. "I took a team that included a couple of artifacts experts and a forensics expert specializing in weapons to Jackson Barracks Military Museum in New Orleans to recover artifacts."

Whitlock was the director of the Illinois State Military Museum from 1995 to 2011 before serving a year with the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. He has also served on the National Guard Bureau museum advisory council for the past 10 years.

The New Jersey National Guard Museum boasts the nation's largest collection of New Jersey related Civil War research material. Whitlock said he expects to be in New Jersey for just over a week and concentrate on the preservation of the New Jersey National Guard Museum's collection of weapons, uniforms, Civil War flags and other archival materials.

"Without assistance from museum specialists from other states, the New Jersey National Guard stands to lose its history," said Whitlock.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (11/05/2012)(readMedia)-- Illinois Air National Guardsman Col. Rich Neely of Springfield was named the Illinois National Guard's Chief of the Joint Staff today by Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti of Springfield, Acting Adjutant General at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.

Although an Airman, Neely has led the Illinois Army National Guard's Directorate of Information Management for the last two years as the Chief Information Officer.

"As an Airman who led an Army directorate, Col. Neely is perfect for this position," Celletti said. "His work as the lead planner during the NATO Summit this spring, as well as his past experience in communications, logistics, finance and domestic operations, has prepared him to take the Joint Staff to new heights."

This position oversees the Illinois National Guard's domestic operations as well as various programs such as family programs, counterdrug, International State Partnership Program, civil support and chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) enhanced response force package (CERFP).

He will replace Illinois Army National Guardsman Col. Chris Lawson of Springfield who will deploy early next year to Afghanistan with Bilateral Embedded Staff Team 11 as the deputy task force commander for a Polish task force.

"Rich is a brilliant and talented senior officer who will excel as the Chief of the Joint Staff. He understands the environment and players in the joint community at the international, federal, state and local levels," Lawson said. "He knows how to cultivate unity of effort to achieve results for the Illinois Air and Army National Guard."

Neely started his military career as a U.S. Army Reservist in 1984. He transitioned to the Illinois Air National Guard in 1987, then commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1990. His most recent military assignment was commander of 183rd Air Component Operations Squadron (ACOS), 183rd Air Operations Group at the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield.

Other highlights of Neely's career include chief of logistics plans and programs, financial officer, wing executive officer, communications flight commander and Illinois Air National Guard Deputy United States Property and Fiscal officer. He has also deployed overseas twice in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

"Each one of my jobs has prepared me for this position," Neely said. "I am humbled to be selected for this position and look forward to continue to serve the citizens of Illinois in this new capacity. Col. Lawson is an incredible leader and strategic visionary who is regarded nationally as one of the best Chiefs of Staff within the National Guard. I am fortunate to follow such a great officer and Soldier."

Guardsmen and Reservists Encouraged to Nominate Supportive Employers for Nation's Top Honor

ARLINGTON, VA. (11/01/2012)(readMedia)-- Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense agency, is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The Freedom Award is the Department of Defense's highest award presented to civilian employers for support of their employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve. Nominations may be submitted by Guardsmen, Reservists, or family members acting on their behalf, at through January 21, 2013.

Nearly one million Americans serve in the Guard and Reserve, making up almost one-half of the nation's total military. For more than 10 years, these Citizen Warriors have responded to unprecedented national security demands and humanitarian missions spanning the globe. The civilian employers of Guardsmen and Reservists have shared in their service to our nation by standing firmly behind employees, providing essential support and greater peace of mind.

"Employers of every size and industry continue to go to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to employees serving in the Guard and Reserve," said James G. Rebholz, National Chair, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. "I urge all Guard and Reserve Service members who have benefited from their employer's support to nominate that employer for this most prestigious award. A Freedom Award nomination allows service members to acknowledge and thank their employer for the essential role they play in supporting their military career and in our nation's defense."

Each year, up to 15 of the nation's most supportive employers are selected as recipients and honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Past Freedom Award recipients supportive measures have included arranging childcare services for deployed employees, sponsoring trips to visit injured employees, and working longer hours to cover the shifts of employees at military training.

About ESGR and the Freedom Award:

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. In the years since, 175 employers have been honored with the award. Established as a DoD agency 40 years ago, ESGR develops and maintains employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers. Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

SPRINGFIELD, IL (10/31/2012)(readMedia)-- Six Soldiers with the aviation units in the Illinois Army National Guard completed Lincoln Land Community College's (LLCC) Airframe and Power Plant Technician course Oct. 18 at the school's aviation facility in Springfield.

The four-week course prepares the mechanics for the certification to support and maintain the four new UH-72A Lakotas the Illinois Army National Guard will be receiving September 2013, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Norman Brooks of Clinton with Detachment 1, Company B, 1st Battalion, 376th Aviation Regiment. This is the first course of its type with other classes to follow in 2013.

"The UH-72A is a civilian off-the-shelf aircraft," said Brooks. "As military helicopter mechanics, we are not qualified to perform maintenance on the UH-72A. The UH-72A must be maintained to civilian standards with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations."

At this time the Army does not have military training for Soldiers to obtain the FAA certification, said Brooks. In order to meet the requirements and receive training the Illinois National Guard reached out LLCC for a way to train mechanics.

Brooks said according to FAA regulations servicemembers with 30 months of documented full-time experience can test for the Airframe and Power plant certification. The six Soldiers will take the certification testing starting roughly the last week of October with the final Soldier completing the evaluations on Nov. 3.

Over the past year the Illinois National Guard's State Aviation Office has worked in conjunction with LLCC to create a civilian Airframe and Power plant certification course. After taking the course the Soldier will then take the test for their certification of Airframe and Power plant technician that is granted by the FAA.

The course is typically 18 months long but is condensed to a four-week course for the Soldiers, said LLCC aviation instructor Todd Cole of Jacksonville. The three-week course covers all 44 sections outlined by the FAA aviation maintenance training standards.

"It's not aircraft specific," said Cole. "With what they learn here, they can take this information and apply it to any aircraft in the future."

The Soldiers showed a high level of proficiency and experience in the classroom and while working hands-on. In the end these Soldiers will have a greater knowledge of how to repair and maintain a variety of aircrafts, said Cole.

"They should have a thorough working knowledge of how to perform not only the upkeep maintenance and routine maintenance, but also major repair and alterations," said Cole.

First Sgt. Michael Garver of Decatur, with Company D, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment has worked as a military helicopter mechanic for more than 25 years.

"It's an opportunity to learn more about another type of aircraft that's a commercial version rather than a military version."

Garver said the course has been an enjoyable challenge to learn maintenance on the various types of civilian and commercial aircrafts.

"In the military I learned how to work on two types of aircraft, the UH-58 (Kiowa) and the UH-60 (Black Hawk)," said Garver. "This course expands it and opens it up to everything. I've gained a lot more knowledge about types of engines, air frames, airplanes and different types of systems we in the military don't necessarily use."

The three-week course prepares the Soldiers for the certification testing which typically takes eight hours a day over a two-day period.

"They have to be prepared," said Jim Van Kleek aviation program director with LLCC. "In nationwide norms for this in FAA, nearly 20 to 30 percent fail this test the first time."

The information in the course and the testing ensure that those certified are trained and can provide the needed maintenance to ensure the readiness of the aircrafts, said Van Kleek.

"It's always about safety when it comes to aviation," said Van Kleek. "We try to teach them how to maintain these (aircraft) as safely as possible and that's our main goal. If you don't have the training, you don't know if these (aircraft) are operating properly."

DECATUR, IL (09/10/2012)(readMedia)-- WHO:

• The Illinois National Guard's Detachment 1, Company C, 1st Battalion, 376th Aviation Regiment in Decatur.


• One Illinois National Guard OH-58 Kiowa helicopter and one pilot will return to the Illinois National Guard's Aviation Support Facility after completing a three-month deployment to the U.S. Southwest Border in support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security performing border security operations. A total of four Soldiers supported the mission. The other three Soldiers have already arrived home.


• Sept. 10 at 2 p.m.

• Illinois National Guard Aviation Support Facility, 660 S. Airport Rd, Decatur, Ill.


• Dec. 15, 2011 the Secretary of Defense approved the continued use of the National Guard to support the Department of Homeland Security's effort to secure the U.S. southwest border.

• The Southwest Border extends from San Diego, Calif., to Brownsville, Texas, and is approximately 2,000 miles.

• In most areas, the Southwest Border is located in remote and sparsely populated areas of vast desert and rugged mountain terrain.

• The Southwest Border region is defined as the areas up to 150 miles north of the United States-Mexican border.



PEORIA, IL (09/05/2012)(readMedia)-- The Illinois Air National Guard's 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Sept. 8 to open a $11.1 million facility. The new facility will house the 182nd Operations Group.

The 27,700-square-foot facility will house C-130 operations including weapons and tactics, intelligence operations; briefing space; flight planning, safety, and records areas, physical training, life support and survival equipment including space to repair parachutes, life rafts, and other emergency gear. The new facility also includes space for unit administration, aircrew chemical warfare equipment, base command post, base operations and transient passenger waiting area.

The facility was designed under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and sustainable development concepts to achieve optimum resource efficiency, constructability, sustainability and energy conservation, while minimizing adverse impacts to the building and natural environments through all phases of its life cycle.

The 182nd Airlift Wing supports flying operations for eight C-130H3 aircraft and the associated maintenance and support functions. Its mission is to provide air-land and airdrop, command and control, communications, logistics and support services.

The 182nd Airlift Wing has been heavily engaged in overseas contigency operations since Sept. 11, 2001, supporting more 4,500 individual deployments and flying more 35,000 hours, more than 17,500 of which were in direct support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.