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NEWS | Dec. 26, 2023

Pleasant Plains Soldier Retires after 26 Year Career

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ryan Little, of Pleasant Plains, Illinois, retired from the Illinois Army National Guard after 26 years of service, Dec. 21, at Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois.

“The Army got weaker today because you’re not in anymore,” said Col. Shawn Nokes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Illinois Army National Guard, who officiated the retirement ceremony. “Your legacy will live on in all of us. The greatest legacy anyone leaves behind is to positively impact the lives of others and you have done that.”

Little enlisted in the ILARNG in 1997, serving with the 3637th Maintenance Company, based in Springfield. In 2003, he transferred to the 1644th Transportation Company to mobilize as a motor transport operator in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Little deployed to Iraq as the 232nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion motor sergeant from December 2003 through January 2005.

Little attended Warrant Officer Candidate School, graduating as a warrant officer in 2006. He served in the 3637th Maintenance Company as the Ground Support Equipment Platoon Engineer Equipment Maintenance Warrant Officer from 2007 to 2015.

In 2016, Little transferred to the 232nd CSSB as the Battalion Maintenance Warrant Officer.

Throughout his career, Little has served in a variety of assignments and duties, most recently as the Senior Maintenance Warrant Officer in Joint Force Headquarters as the Maintenance Assistance and Instruction Team Chief.

Foregoing the traditional military retirement ceremony, Little invited friends with whom he had served throughout his career to share stories from their service together.

Lt. Col. Mike Barton, deputy G-4, congratulated Little on a great career.

“Congratulations on a fantastic career. I don’t think you could have done it any better. You are a consummate professional and someone who gets the people first aspect of about what we do right,” Barton said. “You are a true problem solver. Give him a problem, get out of his way and let him solve it. That’s what you did for us. You are a prime example of why we’re the best Army in the world.”

Nokes, who has known Little for the past 22 years, said no amount of words can be used to describe Little’s impact on the Illinois Army National Guard and it’s Soldiers.

“You have been a friend, mentor and a trusted advisor for me for many years,” Nokes said. “I cannot describe the impact you had on me in becoming the leader I am today. As I made my way through the surface maintenance community, there wasn’t a big project or policy written that I didn’t confide in you.”

Nokes said when he thinks of Little, he sees a quiet professional.

“He served his career the right way,” he said. “Ryan is beyond humble about his accomplishments and never takes credit for anything he did. For him it’s always about the team. He has been extremely effective in building relationships inside and outside the chain of command.”

Nokes also thanked Little’s family.

“Thank you for allowing us to have him for so long,” he said. “He couldn’t have served without your love and support all these years.”

Little thanked friends and family for attending the ceremony.

“Your attendance here means a lot to me,” he said. “Twenty-six years isn’t that long. It seems like it flew by. At the end of the day it was because of each of you. I couldn’t do any of this without a team.”

For Little, the military has been part of his life since the day he was born, thanks to his father’s military service in the Illinois Army National Guard.

“I was always asked if my dad forced me to join the military,” Little said. “Our dad always told us to pick something we wanted to do and run with it but give it 100 percent.”

Little, whose two older brothers served in the ILARNG, said between his father’s and he and his brothers’ service, they have more than 120 years of combined service – not counting the next generation of Littles serving in the military.

Little thanked his children, daughters Sammy, Molly, and Kate, for their support and encouraged them to find their passion and “go full throttle”.

“Pick something you want to do and go full throttle with it,” he said. “Give 100 percent in whatever you do.”

Little thanked his wife, Jade, for her support throughout his service.

“Thank you for your support all these years,” he said. “I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”

Little offered advice to his fellow Soldiers.

“Whatever you do, give it 100 percent, but take care of the Soldiers,” he said. “Soldiers are the ones who win the wars. You build trust from them. Keep them motivated and in the organization. Taking care of them is how you accomplish that.”

Little said while his time in the ILARNG ends at the end of December, he will still be supporting the organization as the Facilities Operations and Program Management Branch Chief with the Construction and Facilities Management Office at Camp Lincoln.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’ll be a freedom fighter with the CFMO.”