In a COVID-19 modified ceremony, six lieutenant colonels who graduated from the Illinois Army National Guard Officer Candidate School were inducted as members of the Guard’s OCS Hall of Fame Class of 2020, Aug. 25, at the Illinois Military Academy, Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois.
“Great job to the Hall of Fame inductees for the Class of 2020. This has been a long time coming,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Zerbonia, of Chatham, Illinois, Assistant Adjutant General-Army, Illinois National Guard, to ceremony attendees. Zerbonia also addressed the newest class of OCS cadets set to graduate and commission later in the day. “Don’t forget your mentors and retirees, they are a wealth of knowledge and most importantly don’t forget your family because they have your back,” the general said.
“Not everyone will be promoted to lieutenant colonel, but perhaps with hard work this can be you in 17-20 years,” he said. “To our inductees whose career has taken a different path, you are and will always be part of the Illinois National Guard family. I challenge each of you to continue to mentor Soldiers. Families, thank you for always supporting your Soldier, because without your support we cannot perform our missions.”
To be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame, each Soldier must be a graduate of the Illinois Army National Guard’s 129th Regiment (RTI) OCS program, attain the rank of lieutenant colonel while serving on active duty and/or active National Guard or Reserve status, be recognized and recommended by the ILARNG OCS Hall of Fame Board, and confirmed by the Commander of the 129th RTI for outstanding service.
The Illinois Army National Guard OCS Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inductees include:
Lt. Col. Jason Carter, of Bloomington, Illinois, enlisted as a 13F, Forward Observer, March 28, 1998. His previous assignments have included Staff Communications, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment; Commander, Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery; Operations, 2-122nd FA; Operations, 108th Sustainment Brigade; and Brigade Fire Support Officer, 2-122 FA. He deployed to Germany in 2002 with 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment and Afghanistan with 2-122 FA in support of Task Force Phoenix from 2008-2009. He has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal and three Meritorious Service Medals. Carter has served for 21 years and is currently the Battalion Commander for 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery in the Field Artillery Branch. He was commissioned in 2003.
Lt. Col. Jason Celletti, of Springfield, Illinois, enlisted as a 67T, UH60 Blackhawk mechanic and crew chief on July 31, 2001. His previous assignments have included Personnel, 1-106th AVN; Commander, Company D, 1-106th AVN; Commander, Company B, 935th Aviation Support Battalion; Training and Operations, 1-106th AVN; and Executive Officer, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. He deployed to Kosovo with 1-106th AVN in support of Task Force Blackhorse from 2008-2009 and has been awarded two Meritorious Service Medals. Celletti has served for 19 years and is currently the State Army Aviation Officer in the Aviation Branch. He was commissioned in 2002.
Lt. Col. Justin Kramer, of Lone Rock, Wisconsin, enlisted as a 13B, Cannon Crew Member, Feb. 28, 2002. His previous assignments include Fire Support Coordinator, 404th MEB; Fire Support Officer, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and Executive Officer, 2-122 FA. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom from 2008-2009. He has been awarded a Meritorious Service Medal and the Saint Barbara Award. Kramer has served for 18 years and is currently the Battalion Commander for 2-122 FA in the Field Artillery Branch. He was commissioned in 2004.
Lt. Col. David Malenfant, of Springfield, Illinois, enlisted Feb. 18, 1992. His previous assignments include Commander, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Engineer Battalion FSC; Training and Operations, 232nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion; Executive Officer, 634th Brigade Support Battalion; and the Support Operations Officer, 108th Sustainment Brigade. He deployed to Sinai Egypt with 2-123 FA in support of Task Force Sinai 2010-2011 and has been awarded three Meritorious Service Medals. Malenfant has served for 28 years and is currently the 65th Troop Command Brigade Officer in charge in the Logistics Branch. He was commissioned in 2003.
Lt. Col. Jessica McPherson, of Springfield, Illinois, enlisted May 1, 1997. Her previous assignments include Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 44th Chemical Battalion; Joint Collective Training Officer, National Guard Bureau; Joint Planning Officer, NGB; Domestic Operations Branch Chief, Illinois National Guard Joint Staff. She served in Operation Enduring Freedom from 2008-2009 and has been awarded a Meritorious Service Medal and a Joint Commendation Service Medal. McPherson has served for 23 years and is currently the Domestic Operations Branch Chief in the Chemical Branch. She was commissioned in 2003.
Lt. Col. Timothy Tyler, of Chatham, Illinois enlisted as a 95B, Military Police Soldier, Nov. 17, 1989. His previous assignments include Deputy Commander Officer, 206th Regional Support Group and Command Provost Marshal, 416th Theater Engineer Command (USAR). He served in Operation Desert Storm from 1990-1991 and Operation Enduring Freedom 2004-2005. Tyler has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters. Tyler has served for 30 years and is currently the Battalion Commander for 327th Military Police Battalion (USAR) in the Military Police Branch. He was commissioned in 1992.
Col. Lenny Williams, of Dyer, Indiana, Commander, 129th Regiment (RTI), also addressed both the inductees and the OCS cadets.
“I urge the newest OCS graduates to savor every single moment you get to be around and lead Soldiers,” Williams said. “Find someone who can be a mentor to you, and as you go up the ranks be a mentor to other Soldiers.”
Williams said the Illinois National Guard’s OCS program was federally recognized Sept. 29, 1957 and has been the commissioning source for thousands of Army leaders.
“Approximately 2,400 Soldiers have been commissioned through our OCS program,” he said. “Of those, only 200 have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.”