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Illinois Army National Guard 1st Sgt. Ryan Crews of Mount Vernon retired after 34 years of military service during an Aug. 7 ceremony at Illinois National Guard headquarters on Camp Lincoln, Springfield.
Crews enlisted in the Guard in September 1988. After completing basic training and advanced individual training, he received his qualification as a Tactical Microwave and Satellite Repairer.
Crews continued to rise through the ranks. He served in a variety of command and staff positions including as a platoon sergeant, a brigade communications (S-6) noncommissioned officer-in-charge, a signal support systems specialist (25U) instructor, first sergeant of the 406th Signal Company, first sergeant of C Co., 766th Brigade Engineer Battalion, and lastly as the state tactical communications senior noncommissioned officer-in-charge.
With over three decades of service and seven different military occupational specialties, Crews said he continued to serve in the Army because he enjoyed it.
“I will miss being around the troops the most,” Crews said. “I got the most job satisfaction out of spending time with younger Soldiers and taking opportunities when they presented themselves to train and mentor and guide the younger troops.”
After a 15-year relationship, Lt. Col. Mark Lueken, the Illinois Army National Guard Information Technology Operations Manager, said that he will miss Crews’ leadership and wisdom the most.
Lueken described Crews as a “passionate leader” who “took charge and got things done.” Crews understands the impact that information technology decisions have on Soldiers at the tactical level and always gave good feedback based on the expected results and the effect a decision could have on our troops, Lueken said.
Crews has been called to active-duty service several times over his career. He was activated in 1993 to assist with recovery efforts during the “Great Flood” of the Mississippi River. He mobilized in 2003 and again in 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2020, he deployed with Task Force Illini to Ukraine in support of the European Deterrence Initiative.
“This life is not for everybody and if you wanted to truly get the most benefit from it, use it as a way to succeed through this stage of your life. You have to take control of your career. If you sit back and wait things will pass you by and you’ll lose opportunities,” Crews said.
In his civilian career, Crews retired May 2022 from the Mount Vernon Police Department as captain. He served with the Mount Vernon Police Department for over 25 years. He will continue to reside in the town of Mount Vernon with his wife, Sara and their two golden doodles, Poppy and Prescott. His daughter, Sydney, lives in North Carolina and his daughter, Madison, with granddaughter, Scottie Rose, lives in southern Illinois.
Crews credited his family and friends for their support during his career.
“Make sure you have a strong family support system,” said Crews. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without my family and my wife especially. My family is the sole motivation behind everything.”
Post retirement, Crews looks forward to spending time with his wife and family.
“I’ll never have to check the drill schedule and say ‘Sorry I’ve got drill.’” Crews said with a laugh. “I’ve got my weekends back!”