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After more than 34 years of service in the Illinois Army National Guard, Lt. Col. Roger M. “Mike” Landon, of Petersburg, Illinois, retired in a ceremony at Camp Lincoln, in Springfield, Illinois, Sept. 30.
“I knew serving in the Illinois National Guard would be a good experience. In 1988, when I went to Beardstown to pick up my ticket to basic training, I started my car and Eddie Money’s ‘Two Tickets to Paradise’ was playing on the radio,” Landon told family and friends at the ceremony. “I knew it had to be a good sign. Basic training wasn’t quite paradise, but I have had a lot of great experiences and opportunities throughout the years.”
Landon enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1987, earning a direct commission as a second lieutenant in 2004. He has served in a variety of leadership positions including 126th Maintenance Company First Sergeant, 126th Maintenance Company Platoon Leader, 1844th Transportation Company Platoon Leader, 1744th Transportation Company executive officer, Commander of the 3637th Maintenance Company, 232nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Support Operations officer and U.S. Property and Fiscal Office Supply and Services division chief.
“We’ve known each other for a long time,” said Col. Brian Creech, of Petersburg, the U.S. Property and Fiscal Officer for Illinois. “You’ll be greatly missed.”
Creech thanked Landon’s family, including wife, Tara, daughter, Marlee and sons, Kane and Brody, for sacrifices they made during Landon’s career.
“You sacrificed during times when he was deployed,” Creech said. “The Illinois National Guard greatly appreciates all you have done to allow him to serve over the years.”
Landon thanked his family for their support.
“I want to thank my parents for their support throughout the years and my wife, Tara, who made sure I didn’t have to worry about things at home while I was away. She deserves as much credit as I for all I’ve done over the years,” he said.
He also thanked members of the Illinois National Guard for opportunities extended to him and for the friends he made during his journey.
“I want to thank the leaders for the opportunities I’ve been offered the past 34 years,” Landon said. “I also want to thank the Soldiers I’ve served with for their invaluable support.”
Landon said serving in the Illinois National Guard was a hobby for the first few years until the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Before 9/11, we all went to drill and hung out with our buddies,” Landon said. “We went to annual training and extended annual training. But 9/11 happened and things got serious.”
Landon said early in his career, many of the senior Soldiers in his unit were Vietnam veterans.
“They had all this knowledge and wisdom,” he said. “I thought we’d never be as good as these guys. Over the years I came to realize the guys I was serving with were a great group of Soldiers.”
Landon credits the events of Sept. 11, 2001 for the transformation.
“We all took a step forward when things got bad. We all went through the training and we got ready for what was to come,” he said. “Our Soldiers stepped up to any challenge facing us.”
He said the difference between the reserve component and the active duty military is what the reserve forces brings to the table.
“Our Soldiers within our ranks bring so many other skills to the table,” he said. “When asked for a specific skill set, oftentimes, we can fill that request from someone within our ranks.”
Landon’s farewell message was simple.
“This is an outstanding organization with outstanding people,” he said. “I’m glad I got to be a part of it for so long.”