By Barbara Wilson
Joint Force Headquarters - Illinois National Guard
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS – Delavan resident and Illinois National Guard Soldier Sgt. Maj. Sharon Hultquist was honored for her 30 year military career during a retirement ceremony May 17 at the Illinois Military Academy, Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois.
“This is an amazing day for me,” said Hultquist. “Thank you to those whom I have had the pleasure of working with over the years, the many in attendance today, and most importantly, to my family thank you for your support.”
“There were times, because of my military duties, I may not have been the best mother, but I hope when you needed me the most, I was there,” she continued. “And to my husband Dave, we have arrived. I’m looking forward to the rest of our lives.”
Hultquist, who retires officially May 31, began her military service in 1986, enlisting in the U.S. Army and serving as an Administrative Specialist and Mail Clerk for the 534th Signal Company in Garmisch, Germany. Following her active duty service, Hultquist enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves, serving in the 98th Training Division. In 1990, Hultquist continued her military service, enlisting in the Illinois Army National Guard where she served in a variety of positions, including Personnel Information System Manager, Recruiter, Strategic Planning Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), Joint Staff Operations NCO, Regional Training Institute Operations NCO and First Sergeant, Medical Branch NCO in charge and most recently, as the Personnel Sergeant Major.
“Sergeant Major Hultquist served in all three components of the Army – active, reserves and Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Zerbonia. “But listening to the jobs she has held, I began to wonder can she just not hold a job or is she that good? Let me tell you – she’s that good.”
Zerbonia singled out Hultquist’s family, daughter Sydney, son Pete, and husband Dave for their support. He pointed out that Dave retired in 2015, also as a Sergeant Major in the Illinois Army National Guard.
“Work them hard. Love them,” Zerbonia told Hulquist’s children. “But most of all thank them for their service.”
Hultquist deployed to Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan in 2011. During her deployment, she served as a liaison mentor Battle Captain with the Polish 17th Infantry Brigade. The Polish Task Force she worked with was subordinate to the 101st Airborne Division and the 1st Cavalry Division.
During the ceremony, Hultquist was presented the Illinois Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit for the impact she made on the overall development of enlisted Soldiers in the Illinois National Guard. In addition, she received various certificates of appreciation and service, a Certificate of Retirement from the U.S. Armed Forces; and a retirement flag.
“For the first time in several years, at the end of May, there will not be a Sergeant Major Hultquist serving in the Illinois National Guard, and that will be a sad day,” Zerbonia said. “Sergeant Major, we will miss your infectious laughter and your can do attitude.”
Hultquist briefly spoke about some of the people with whom she has worked or served.
“They have taught me a lot throughout the years,” she said. “First, you never know what impact you may have on someone. Second, if you don’t apply for a job, you’ll never get it. Third, talking to someone can ground you and make all the difference in a day’s work.”
Hultquist ended her remarks reminding everyone the Illinois National Guard is constantly undergoing change.
“Change makes some people nervous and stressed,” she said. “In the Chinese language, there is no written word for change. So they use two characters – one for danger, the other meaning hidden opportunity. In our family, I hope change looks like an opportunity.”
Following the reading of the retirement orders, Illinois National Guard Chaplain (Capt.) Kent Kroencke delivered the benediction, reminding all that retirement is the “Army circle of life” and urging Soldiers to “step forward and be what Sergeant Major Hultquist has been to the Illinois National Guard.”