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Michael Barton, of Greenview, Illinois, was promoted to lieutenant colonel at a ceremony at the Illinois National Guard headquarters on Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, April 5.
“This promotion is about two groups of people,” Barton told friends and family during the ceremony. “To those who got me here today and to those who wanted to serve but were unable to do so, this promotion is for you.”
Barton also thanked his family.
“Thank you for your love and support but also for your faithful understanding that although you didn’t volunteer to serve, you have had to bear the same uncertainty and struggles my past 25 years has thrown your way,” he told his wife, Kelli, and children, Myleigh, Rhett, Bryar and Scarlett.
Barton enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard Feb. 29, 1996 as a heavy wheel vehicle mechanic, serving with the 1644th Transportation Company, based in Rock Falls, Illinois. Barton rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant before receiving a direct commission to second lieutenant in 2006, branching as a transportation officer.
“Mike Barton is a heck of a Soldier,” said Maj. Gen. Michael R. Zerbonia, of Chatham, Illinois, Assistant Adjutant General – Army and Commander of the Illinois Army National Guard. “He does what needs to be done, but the family also helps. We appreciate your support which lets him do what he loves to do and be a Soldier.”
Barton has served in multiple command and staff positions, most recently as the Assistant to the Chief of Staff, Illinois Army National Guard. Barton currently is the Division Chief, Strategic Plans and Readiness Officer for the Illinois Army National Guard.
“I like to think I bring intensity to the job which fuels my passion for working with Soldiers, wearing the uniform and the mission of the U.S. Army,” Barton said. “The advice and mentorship I received throughout my career have led me to where I am today. I believe no one makes it to this point in their career without making mistakes and getting second chances. As leaders we need to remember that in our approach with our Soldiers.”
Barton said those second chances lead to the overall success of the mission.
“I’m no better than anyone else,” he said. “I believe the success of the individual leads to the success of the team.”
Barton urged his fellow Illinois National Guard members to remember they are ambassadors.
“No matter your reason for serving, as a Guardsman you volunteer to be an ambassador,” he said. “When you put on the uniform, you are an ambassador to your country, the United States Army, your unit in which you serve and the community from where you come, and lastly to your name. Some are only as good as what their name is and that should mean a lot.”
Following the promotion, Barton received a Meritorious Service Medal for his service as the Assistant to the Chief of Staff from Jan. 22, 2019 through June 14, 2020.