Illinois National Guard

65th TC Commander CSM Joseph Cistaro
Colonel Nick Johnson

COL Johnson is a Chicago native with over 28 years of military service within the ILARNG.  He enlisted in 1989 as an SMP Cadet with the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment while enrolled in the ROTC program at Chicago State University. He earned his Commission of Infantry in 1992.

COL Johnson’s command assignments include two companies within the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment (Company C and Headquarters and Headquarters Company), command of the Battalion, and most recently of the 244th Digital Liaison Detachment. His staff assignments have been at the Battalion level (S4 for the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment; Plans and Operations Officer for the 651st Troop Command; and Executive Officer for the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment), Brigade (Operations Officer for the 66th Brigade), and at State (Deputy G3 and G3).  Additionally, COL Johnson deployed to Afghanistan with the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2008-2009 as the S3 and Executive Officer of the Counter Narcotics Infantry Kandak Embedded Training Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

COL Johnson’s professional military education includes the US Army Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Combined Arms Service and Staff School, US Army Command and General Staff College, and the United States Army War College. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Chicago State University, Masters’ Degrees in Counseling from Governors State University and Strategic Studies from the US Army War College, and a Doctor of Psychology Degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.

COL Johnson’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (4 Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Achievement Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal (7 Oak Leaf Clusters), National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ Silver Hourglass, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Service Training Ribbon (5th Award), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, US Army Air Assault Badge, Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ M device, and numerous state awards. 

As a civilian, COL Johnson is a Clinical Psychologist with the US Department of Veterans Affairs at the Naval Station Great Lakes’ Recruit Evaluation Unit. COL Johnson is a proud father and grandfather and resides in Evanston, Illinois.

As of August 2017

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CSM Joseph Cistaro

CSM Cistaro began his military career in 1987 in the 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne) as an Intelligence Analyst and a Foreign Voice Radio Interceptor (Spanish and Russian). Seven years later he entered the Illinois Army National Guard. In 1995 he became an Infantryman with D Co. 1/131INF and then C Co. which mobilized to Saudi Arabia for "Operation Desert Spring" in 1999. After 9-11, C/1/131INF was mobilized again, and was sent to Hohenfels, Germany for "Operation Santa Fe". In 2005 he was mobilized and sent to Ft. Polk Louisiana for "Operation Cajun Fury". In 2007 he volunteered for the JFHQ Embedded Training Team and was deployed for a year to Afghanistan. There he mentored and fought alongside his Afghan National Army (ANA) Infantry counterparts in the 2nd Kandak, 2nd Brigade/203rd CORPS in ARSIC East. In 2009 he was promoted to Command Sergeant Major and was transferred to the 232nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. In 2013 he volunteered for the JFHQ Bilateral Embedded Staff Team (13) and was deployed to Afghanistan, this time with the Polish 10th Logistics Brigade where he assumed responsibilities as the Task Force White Eagle, Senior Enlisted Advisor. Prior to his return to the United States he was reassigned to the 65th Troop Command as the Brigade Command Sergeant Major.

CSM Cistaro is a graduate of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. He has been awarded the Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinder and Combat Infantryman's Badges. His decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device and Silver Hourglass, Army Superior Unit Award, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, Global War on Terror Service Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the ISAF NATO MEDAL. His foreign awards include the Polish Army Marksmanship Badge (Bronze), Polish Afghan Star, and the Polish Bronze Star Medal.

As of February 2016

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