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NEWS | Dec. 29, 2023

Illinois National Guard Continued to Achieve in its 300th Year

May 9, 2023 marked the Illinois National Guard’s 300th Birthday and while the National Guard reflected throughout the year on important dates in the organization’s past, the Illinois National Guard’s modern service members continued to make history.

“Your Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue to do great things,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. “The reach and scope of Illinois National Guard operations is amazing especially considering that more than 80 percent of our Soldiers and Airmen are part-time traditional Guard members.”

During this past federal fiscal year the Illinois National Guard has:

  • Deployed almost 1,200 service members to places like Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, East Africa, Peru, Niger, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Germany, Antarctica, Djibouti, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, the Philippines, Kosovo, Romania, and Poland as well as about 200 Soldiers in a federal status to the U.S. Southwest Border to assist the U.S. Border Patrol.
  • The Illinois Air National Guard’s 126th Air Refueling Wing, based on Scott Air Force Base, ranked first in the entire Air Force for its KC-135 Mission Capability Rate (86.8 percent) and Aircraft Availability Rate (70.7 percent.)
  • The 182nd Airlift Wing based in Peoria was the recipient of the 2023 Stanley F.H. Newman Award for best Air National Guard Unit in Air Mobility Command.
  • Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, based in Kewanee and Dixon, placed first among U.S. Army units in the Gainey Cup competition. The grueling 5-day Gainey Cup pits the best scout squads against each other. The Illinois team was barely edged out from the top overall spot by a team from the Netherlands.
  • The Illinois Army National Guard is ranked first nationally in medical readiness and in the top seven in the Strength Health Index.
  • In its 30th year, Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy based in Rantoul surpassed its 16,000th graduate this year – that’s thousands of local youth put on a positive track in life and given a hopeful and promising future. The academy continues to expand its offerings helping these young people recover high school credits and graduate high school, pass the GED, move on to higher education, or obtain marketable skills and employment within Illinois’ diverse communities.
  • In its 30th year, the Illinois National Guard’s State Partnership Program with Poland is as active as ever with dozens of engagements each year. In these past three decades we have seen Poland emerge from behind the Iron Curtain to become one of our nation’s staunchest NATO allies and a critical partner to the free world’s response to Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine.
  • Provided more than $21 million worth of equipment to the war fight in Ukraine.
  • Supported Illinois law enforcement in seizing more than $306 million worth of illegal drugs.
  • The Illinois Army National Guard Funeral and Honors Program provided military honors at the funerals and burials of 2,695 Army Veterans throughout the state.
  • The Illinois Army National Guard has won multiple logistics awards including the 634th Brigade Support Battalion based in Sullivan winning an Army Award for Maintenance Excellence and the 725th Transportation Co. based in Machesney Park receiving an Army Supply Excellence Award.  The 1644th Transportation Company based in Rock Falls was named the U.S. Army Transportation Corps’ Unit of the Year.
  • The Illinois Air National Guard’s 183rd Air Operations Group’s 183rd Air Mobility Operations Squadron based in Springfield received the Air Mobility Command Theater Command and Control Officer Performer of the Year and the Theater Command and Control Enlisted Performer of the Year Awards.
  • The Illinois Army National Guard’s Capt. Anna Zamora of the 34th Division Sustainment Brigade based in Chicago received the 2023 LATINA Style Distinguished Military Service Award. It was the second year in a row that an Illinois Army National Guard Soldier received the LATINA Style award, based from the 34th.
  • Contributed 511 man-days helping the City of Chicago with thousands of legal asylum seekers bussed from the nation’s Southwest Border.
  • Contributed more than 40 man-days to shoring up the state’s cyber defenses prior to and during the midterm elections.
  • Responded to a call from Hawaii for public information assistance following the deadly Lahaina fire in Maui. A public affairs officer assisted with these efforts for three weeks.

“It has been 300 years, but the spirit of those militia members who first mustered in Kaskaskia on May 9, 1723 is still very much alive in today’s Illinois National Guard,” Neely said. “To this day we have nearly 13,000 men and women willing to set aside their civilian lives at a moment’s notice to protect and defend our communities, state and nation.”