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Nearly 22 years after graduating from the Illinois Army National Guard Officer Candidate School, Illinois Army National Guard Soldier Paul Metzdorff, of Bloomington, was promoted to colonel in a ceremony at the Astroth Community Education Center, Heartland Community College, Normal, Illinois, Sept. 8.
“Achieving the rank of colonel is quite an accomplishment in one’s career,” Maj. Gen. Rodney Boyd, Assistant Adjutant General – Army and Commander of the Illinois Army National Guard, said. “When you achieve that rank, you are asked to do more. Paul has done all we have asked of him and more. That’s why we’re here today to celebrate this well-deserved, well-earned promotion.”
Metzdorff enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1996 as an infantryman, serving with 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment in Bosnia-Herzegovina and at Fort Riley, Kansas. In 2000, he joined the Illinois Army National Guard as a Simultaneous Membership Program Cadet while attending Illinois State University. In March 2001, he transitioned to the ILARNG OCS and was commissioned as an infantry officer Sept. 10, 2002.
“I’m humbled to stand here,” Metzdorff said. “I joined active duty when I was 17 just to pay for college. When I left active duty to go to school, I had no intention of ever being in the military again. But I missed something when I was going to college. Turns out that something was the people, the camaraderie.”
Throughout his career in the ILARNG, Metzdorff has served in positions of greater responsibility, including assignments in the 66th Infantry Brigade as it transitioned into the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team; 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment; Recruiting and Retention Battalion; and the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; culminating in his selection as the ILARNG Military Personnel Officer (G-1). From 2017-2019, Metzdorff served as a branch chief in the Acquisitions and Program Management Office at National Guard Bureau.
“Paul has taken on some tough assignments,” Boyd said. “When Paul took over as commander of recruiting and retention, it was during COVID. He came to work every day, even during the tough times. It’s easy to be a leader when things are going good but when things are not going well, that’s when it’s tough to be a leader.”
Boyd said Metzdorff stepped out of his comfort zone by accepting the assignment at NGB.
“He took a broadening assignment at NGB,” he said. He learned some very valuable lessons and brought that experience back to our organization. Stepping up to take those types of assignments is what makes you competitive when you make colonel.”
Metzdorff thanked ILARNG Col. Ron Bonesz, who Metzdorff succeed as the ILARNG Military Personnel Officer.
“I have huge shoes to fill,” Metzdorff said. “But I’m up to the challenge.”
He also thanked his family, wife, Alyson, and children, Isabella, 19, Jackson, 17, and Cooper, 11, for their support of his career.
“Without their sacrifices and unwavering support, there is no doubt in my mind I would not be here today, especially without my wife, Alyson,” he said.
Metzdorff acknowledged those he served alongside over the years.
“I have served with a variety of people throughout my career, and I’ve learned from all of them. Thank you for the impact you have had on my career,” he said. “This promotion is not just the recognition of my achievements but also the recognition of everyone I’ve served alongside. It’s also a marker of the responsibility for my future endeavors as the challenge for me to continue to grow as a leader, a mentor and as a person. It’s an opportunity to serve the Soldiers of the Illinois Army National Guard. I’m ready to take on that challenge.”