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NEWS | May 17, 2023

Soldier Battling Cancer Promoted to Sergeant, Receives Order of Saint Barbara Medal

By Spc. Dasianelle Burton, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Spc. Maxwell Ehrlich of Chicago, assigned to the Oregon National Guard’s Charlie Battery, 2-218th Field Artillery Battalion based in Portland, Oregon, was promoted to the rank of sergeant May 6, 2023, at the North Riverside Armory in Chicago Illinois.

Ehrlich was unable to return to Oregon for a promotion after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Terminal Astrocytoma in January this year. He has completely lost the use of his right arm and right leg. Despite all he is facing with the illness Ehrlich had one lifelong military goal he wanted to achieve.

“I had always wanted to make sergeant and was one of eight 13B on the order of merit list shortly before my diagnosis. Having this promotion come to fruition was a lot of work and the way it was done was nothing short of extraordinary and beyond anything I could have imagined,” said Ehrlich.

  Ehrlich said the main driving force of getting him promoted was Sgt. 1st Class Tera Eilers, Protocol noncommissioned Officer at the National Guard Bureau.

“Over the past couple months a Martin Luther King Jr. quote kept popping up in my head, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy’”,” said Eilers during the ceremony. “Soldiers will always remember their recruiters, however, it’s not always the other way around. However, Max you taught me lessons of positivity, humility, determination, courage and resilience and you will constantly inspire me and I will never forget you.”

During the ceremony Ehrlich was pinned by his wife Rebecca Raygoza and Staff Sgt. Tom Hoy. Ehrlich received a special letter from Command Sgt. Maj. John T. Raines III, 13th Sergeant Major of the Army National Guard congratulating him on his achievements.

Ehrlich also was awarded the Order of Saint Barbara medal for his hard work and dedication during his military career. The Saint Barbara Medal is awarded to Field Artillery members who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character.

Prior to joining the Army National Guard, Ehrlich served 10 years with the Coast Guard and two years with the California State Guard. In March 2020, he joined the Oregon Army National Guard and earned the occupational specialty 13B, Army cannon crew member. 

At the U.S. Army Field Artillery Weapons Maintenance School, he earned an additional skill as a Weapon Maintenance Specialist and was named the Distinguished Honor Graduate.

In addition to thanking everyone for attending his promotion ceremony, Ehrlich thanks the Illinois National Guard for its assistance.

“The military has come full force in making sure both me and my family are taken care of,” said Ehrlich. “We’re still in the early stages of things but the fact my National Guard family has come out in full force to support us in any way possible has been a testament to how we take care of our own. Having noncommissioned officers and a command team who truly care makes all the difference.”

Ehrlich also said he will continue to wear the uniform for as long as possible.