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Springfield resident and Illinois Army National Guard Soldier Eric Smith laid the initial foundation to his military career when he enlisted in January 1989 as a carpenter/mason serving in the 744th Engineer Company.
On Jan. 13, Smith, the Director of Logistics for the Illinois Army National Guard, continued to build on his 34 years of service when he was promoted to colonel in a ceremony at the Illinois Military Academy on Camp Lincoln in Springfield.
“Eric and I go way back. When I was a brigade commander, he was one of my battalion commanders,” said Brig. Gen. Rodney Boyd, Assistant Adjutant General – Army and Commander of the Illinois Army National Guard. “He would always take care of business and get the job done.”
Boyd said it was great to see someone he has worked with in the past get elevated to the next position.
“I know you will continue to do great work in our organization,” Boyd said. “The Directorate of Logistics is a very daunting position. Handling logistics all across the organization is a very daunting task because not only do you deal with Soldiers but civilians who work within that directorate as well.”
Boyd said a Soldier doesn’t just get to be a director.
“You have to compete against your peers and stand out among your peers,” Boyd said. “You also have to demonstrate you can work with service members and civilians. Eric has proven that along the way. This job is a lot more responsibility, but I have no doubt Eric is ready to take on the task.”
Smith graduated from Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a Quartermaster officer in August 1998. He has served in a variety of leadership and staff positions including commander of the 1144th Transportation Motor Transport Battalion, executive officer for the 65th Troop Command, and deputy commander of the 129th Regiment (Regional Training Institute).
“As a Soldier, you wait for years, hoping this moment will come,” Smith said. “I have been preparing for this my entire officer career. It has been a challenging and rewarding career up to this point.”
Smith said achieving a promotion to colonel is partly by chance, and partly timing.
“For me things worked out,” he said. “Here I am now, the director of logistics, the position I’ve worked toward for the last 20 years.”
Smith said he was humbled to receive the promotion and the single factor is the family support he has received over the years.
“I wanted the promotion, probably more for them because they have made more sacrifices than I did,” Smith said.
Smith thanked his family, wife, Lori, calling her the rock of the family, his two daughters, Reegan and Asya, and his mother, Candy.
“I owe my mother everything,” he said. “Especially the foresight to immigrate with me and my sister to this great country and for instilling in me to always move forward regardless of the circumstances.”
Smith also thanked the noncommissioned officers he has served with throughout his career.
“I truly believe I wouldn’t be here with the support of my NCOs,” he said. “You helped me navigate the things that are really important to Soldiers.”
Smith also thanked the Directorate of Logistics staff.
“I can’t say enough about the support you’ve given me,” he said. “You’ve kept me on track and I look forward to the next couple of years.”
Smith has deployed numerous times in his career, including as commander of the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A-24 to Afghanistan in 2019-2020, support operations officer, Task Force Phoenix VIII, to Afghanistan in 2008-2009 and Operation Crescent Relief in support of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005.