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NEWS | Oct. 18, 2022

Illinois Army National Guard Sergeant Major Retires After 31 Years of Service

Sgt. Maj. Jason S. Coffey with the Illinois National Guard’s 244th Digital Liaison Detachment, retired Oct. 15 after 31 years of service during a ceremony at the Illinois National Guard’s Northwest Armory in Chicago. 

Coffey, of Galion, Ohio, enlisted in the active Army in 1992 and completed Infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia, in October 1992. Coffey most recently served as the Chief Operations noncommissioned officer for the 244th Digital Liaison Detachment, 65th Troop Brigade, Illinois Army National Guard.

His military assignments included 1st Brigade 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg North Carolina; 66th Brigade, 35th Infantry Division Illinois Army National Guard; 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois Army National Guard; and the 244th Digital Liaison Detachment 65th Brigade, Illinois Army National Guard.           

Over his career Coffey served in a variety of leadership positions including Fire Team Leader, Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, Scout Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, and Chief Operations NCO.

Coffey said learning from his own mistakes has been one of the biggest lessons he has learned during his long career.

“Being able to recognize your own mistakes and learn from them is one of the most important lessons,” said Coffey. “Make mistakes, recognize them and move on. I hope that some of my leadership traits will carry on and Soldiers have learned from success or learned from the mistakes.”

During the retirement ceremony, Col. Max Casteleyn, the 244th commander, said Coffey’s experience will be missed. 

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments but what is woven in the hearts of others,” said Casteleyn. “For 31 years, you have trained, cared, and lead with empathy. For 31 years, you have sacrificed time with family and you have been a part of the nation’s one-percent willing to wear the uniform and live by the Soldier’s creed. Now it’s your turn to sit back and relax.”

Coffey said the comradery with his fellow Soldiers kept him in uniform for 31 years.

“I hope that some of my leadership traits will carry on and Soldiers learned from it,” said Coffey. “I hope the same drive and care will carry on. It’s still a huge need to ensure our country’s security and way of life. I hope the soldiers look at it the way I did and that they continue to take care of each other.”

After retirement, Coffey said he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Kristine, and his son, Collin.