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A journey that began when he was still in high school ended this month when Illinois Army National Guard Col. Craig Holan of Litchfield retired from the military after 37 years of service during a ceremony May 14 at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.
Holan joined the Army in his junior year of high school as a split-option Soldier, enlisting in the 82nd Airborne Division and serving three years on active duty before transferring to the Army Reserve’s 84th Training Division in 1986. Holan retired as the Illinois Army National Guard’s Chief Facilities Management Officer after Commanding the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from November 2017 until May 2021. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 as the Deputy Commander of the 766th Explosive Hazards Coordination Cell.
When he was still in the 82nd Airborne, he remembered his spouse, Sharon, waiting for him in an empty Fort Bragg, NC, parking lot as he completed a parachute jump in the middle of the night. “Our families serve with us,” Holan said. He thanked Sharon and his two adult daughters, Katerina and Elizabeth, for serving with him throughout his military career. He said he was proud of both his daughters, but particularly proud that Elizabeth, a lieutenant with the Illinois Army National Guard’s 634th Brigade Support Battalion, decided to also enter military service.
“The strength of the military is the people,” Holan said. “Your strength of character and willingness to fight for those beside you makes the U.S. military the greatest fighting force on earth,” he told the fellow military members at his retirement. He said the Army made him a “better Soldier and a better person.”
Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard, said Holan served “incredibly” throughout his life, giving to the Army, the Illinois National Guard and his country from the age of 17 until his retirement. “He should be very proud of his service and his family and friends should be very proud of him.”
While pursuing his undergraduate degree in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Holan transitioned from staff sergeant to ROTC cadet. He received his commission as an Engineer officer in May 1989. He served in the Army Reserves’ Co. C, 961st Engineer Battalion (Pewaukee, WI) before transferring to the Missouri Army National Guard’s Co. C, 110th Engineer Battalion (Lexington, MO) after he completed master degrees in Engineering and Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He served as a heavy equipment platoon leader, maintenance platoon leader, and company executive officer with the Missouri National Guard. He also supported nation-building in Panama as part of the Missouri National Guard.
Holan transferred to the Illinois Army National Guard in 2005, joining the 766th Engineer Battalion. He would serve as the battalion’s personnel officer, the headquarters company Commander, the operations officer, the executive officer, and as the battalion Commander. After battalion Command, Holan worked full-time as the Illinois Army National Guard’s Construction and Facilities Management Officer where he was responsible for projects such as the new Illinois Army National Guard flight facility in Kankakee and major renovations at the Illinois National Guard headquarters in Springfield. While CFMO, he completed U.S. Army War College earning his master’s degree in strategic studies.
Holan’s military awards and decorations range from the parachutist badge to the Legion of Merit.
As a civilian, Holan is an accredited member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is the Director of Facilities Management for Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. He has been married to Sharon for 36 years.