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By Barbara Wilson
After more than 32 years of military service, Lt. Col. Michael Hough of Petersburg, Illinois is retiring from the Illinois Army National Guard.
Hough enlisted in the Michigan Army National Guard in 1987. He commissioned in 1992 through the Illinois Army National Guard Officer Candidate School program as an infantry officer, later obtaining the additional branch of logistics.
“We go way back,” Col. Mark Alessia, Chief of Staff, Illinois Army National Guard said at Hough’s retirement ceremony July 31 at the Illinois Military Academy at Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois. “He was my first platoon leader when I was a young Private First Class. He once told me if I think I can do things better, then become an officer. It has been great to spend an entire career with you.”
Hough has served in a variety of command and staff positions throughout his career including Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 129th Regional Training Institute, Acting Personnel Director (G-1) and Active Guard and Reserve Branch Chief. Hough currently serves as the Commander, 2nd Battalion, 129th Regiment Regional Training Institute.
“You have done an amazing job in all you have undertaken,” Alessia told Hough. “You have touched a lot of individuals throughout your career.”
Alessia thanked Hough’s family for their support and sacrifice.
“I know there are key events he has missed throughout this journey,” Alessia said. “We appreciate your support. He wouldn’t have achieved what he did without his family’s support.”
“Today I will take this uniform off for the last time,” Hough said. “Thank you for allowing me to serve 32 years in this amazing organization.”
Hough thanked the many friends who attended and shared special messages with his family.
“Thank you for your years of strength and friendship,” he said. “Sometimes life becomes confusing. My sisters taught me to be strong.”
Hough said his parents taught him at a young age to serve people.
“They didn’t sit us down and tell us to serve people. They demonstrated each and every day,” he said. “Mom, there is no way to thank you enough for imparting that in my life.”
Hough said the Army wasn’t something his parents wanted for their son at age 19.
“My mom is a closet hippie, but my dad was a full-blown hippie,” he said. “My mom through the years took the time to learn about the Army.”
Hough offered advice to his daughters, Emily and Elizabeth and son Mickey.
“Stay being who you are. I wouldn’t change you,” he said. “I love each of you.”
“To my wife Stephanie, we have been on some high roads and some low roads,” he said. “We’ve had an adventure. There is no one I would want to live with the past 32 years.”
Hough said there are certain things he will remember fondly about military service.
“I’ll remember the simple joy of spit shining boots while chewing tobacco,” he said. “I’ll remember prepping up for convoys during the deployment. You’re nervous during the time leading up to the time the convoy rolls out, but when it’s time you feel alive. I’ll miss that feeling. But mostly I’ll miss the people I’ve served with and the conversations we have had.”
Hough, who officially retires September 30, offered advice for service members nearing retirement.
“If you’re thinking about retirement – don’t do it,” he said. “Just joking, but it’s a little strange because the Army is a safe place to be. There’s a paycheck and you always have people around to help you.”
“Mostly I would say to everyone to have gratitude,” he said. “We live in wonderful times and we work for a great organization. We are the strongest Army in the world, living in the greatest country on earth. We have the opportunity to put on the uniform and serve our country every day.”