Maj. Nathan A. Westby Retires After 24 Years of Service

SPRINGFIELD, IL (08/12/2014)(readMedia)-- Story by Sgt. 1st Class Rob Fafoglia, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

As his military career draws to a close, Maj. Nathan A. Westby, commander of the 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Springfield, Ill., said his main career inspiration has been the Soldiers he worked with and for.

"I have a profound respect and love for the great Soldiers and leaders I've had the opportunity to work for over the years," said Westby. "The kind of leaders who sacrifice an immense portion of their personal and professional time to make sure that, at the end of the day, their Soldiers, their teammates, are taken care of."

Westby, originally from Edgerton, Wisconsin, finished his career as commander of the 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, based in Springfield, Illinois. He reflected on what has made him successful over the years, as well as any other officer hoping to take command.

"Overall, officers in the National Guard today need to demonstrate the ability to be adaptable to an ever-evolving mission-set and creative in a resource constrained training environment," said Westby, "as our defense force adapts to the changing environment."

According to many of the Soldiers Westby served with over the years, he practiced what he preached.

"He was able to stand back and take a holistic view," said Sgt. 1st Class Peter Feudo, platoon sergeant with C Troop, 2/106th Cavalry (RSTA), in Aurora, Illinois, and a Plainfield, Illinois, resident who deployed with Westby to Afghanistan in 2008. "He understood the mission in its entirety. He also took into account our personal safety. Because he knew his men and we trusted each other, we did what needed to be done to accomplish the mission."

Another secret of Westby's success is his willingness to listen to other's opinions and ideas, especially those of his NCO's, he said.

"As the commander of the MPAD, I think anyone that listens to and involves the officers and NCO's in the unit in planning and executing training will be successful," said Westby. "This unit has a lot of great leaders who have a lot of experience, and not just experience in public affairs or journalism. Many of the Soldiers in this unit have come from other career fields in the military and bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise."

His former Soldiers agreed this was a practice at which Westby excelled.

"He has a lot of maturity as an officer, said Master Sgt. Pedro Gaston, operations sergeant for the 766th Engineer Battalion in Decatur, Illinois, and resident of Schaumberg, Illinois. "He was an NCO first, and he takes NCO opinions very seriously.

Feudo echoed this sentiment.

"He was a Soldier's commander," he said. "He is smart and methodical. He would listen to opinions then make decisions.

Westby's care and concern for the Soldiers serving under him seems to be universal, regardless of the unit.

"(His Soldiers) had nothing but respect and admiration for the man," said Gaston. "He's a good person and treats everyone with respect, regardless of rank. That in itself is admirable."

Westby said this universal respect for those with whom he served, subordinate, peer or superior, was a huge driving force in his career.

"The only reason I've stayed in the (military) this long is because of my admiration for the Soldiers I've worked with and for," he said. "They are simply the best fabric of America. They are the selfless people who will knowingly put their lives on the line for others, whether it's their fellow soldier in the trenches with them, or a faceless nation an ocean away, safely going about their day."

Staff Sgt. Brian Allen, also with 2/106th Cavalry, said Maj. Westby's command philosophy was very simple.

"He lives the Army Values," said Allen, a resident of Downer's Grove, "but it's more than that. He genuinely cares about what he doing and his drive pushes him to be the best at whatever he is doing. Also, his loyalty to his Soldiers was key. He would do anything for his Soldiers. In combat, I've seen him do things you would not believe to protect his men."

This loyalty and respect for his Soldiers is something many of them will always remember.

"He was incredibly personal," said Feudo. "He knew his men and still does to this day. He took an individual approach to each Soldier. He knew their families and their histories. Those that were with him during the toughest times will always remember him as both a commander and a friend."

Westby is not sure what he will do with his retirement, but said the military has definitely benefitted his life and civilian career possibilities.

"It's given me an opportunity to develop leadership skills and made me a much better communicator, he said. "I've developed and honed skills that I've transferred into improving my civilian career and job position over the years. It's given me a tremendous education opportunity. I come from a family where I was the first person to attend college. I now have a master's degree from the University of Illinois."

Westby also said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family in Sussex, Wisconsin, where they now reside.

"I just look forward to being able to spend all of my weekends and summers raising my children, coaching them in sports, taking family vacations and so on," he said.

Whatever Westby does, he will be remembered long after leaving the National Guard.

"Every Soldier I know who served under Maj. Westby loved him," said Allen, "simple as that. We still have Soldiers talking about him to this day. He will be missed."