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NEWS | April 8, 2024

From Private to General - Eastridge Promoted to Brigadier General

Joined by family, friends, and fellow Soldiers, Michael Eastridge, of Plymouth, Michigan, Deputy Assistant Adjutant General – Army, was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony April 8 at the Illinois Military Academy, Camp Lincoln, in Springfield.

Eastridge enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1988, rising through the ranks to staff sergeant before graduating from the ILARNG Officer Candidate School in 2000, commissioning as an Infantry officer.

Eastridge, a traditional member of the National Guard, is the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Marketing and Sales Support Manager for the United States. He has been employed with Mercedes-Benz for more than 20 years.

“What a special day this is for Mike and his family,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, The Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. “It’s through mentors and friends that we make it through our careers.”

Neely thanked Eastridge’s family for their support throughout his career, including mother, Christine Eastridge; his daughters, Rachel and Megan; and his partner, Mary Gollan.

“The military has stolen Mike away for 35 years for deployments, training, school and other events,” Neely said. “I know it’s special for Mike to have each of you here today for this promotion and to celebrate his success.”

Neely told friends and family it’s difficult to become a commissioned officer in the military, and even more so to be promoted to general officer.

“It is hard to become an officer in the military,” Neely said. “It’s really difficult to make lieutenant colonel and some are fortunate to get promoted to colonel, but to become a general officer is very rare.”

Neely said Eastridge has not shied away from the challenges of balancing military obligations and a civilian career.

“I’m always amazed by our traditional Guard members,” Neely said. “Mike epitomizes the ability to successfully balance military obligations and a civilian career. He has grown and excelled in every position he’s held.”

Eastridge has deployed multiple times throughout 35 years of military service. He deployed to Germany in 2002 with Task Force Santa Fe with Company A, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment, where the unit conducted force protection operations. In 2004, Eastridge mobilized with 1st Battalion, 131st Infantry Regiment as the Opposing Forces Military Intelligence Officer to Fort Polk, Louisiana.

In 2008 he deployed to Afghanistan as a team chief for an Afghan Border Police Embedded Training Team. While deployed to Afghanistan, Eastridge assumed command of the 333rd Military Police Company. Eastridge later became commander of 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment from 2015 to 2017 and in 2020, he was selected to command the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

“Thirty five years ago I enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard specifically for college tuition,” Eastridge said. “I never thought I’d stay past six years, let alone stand here today receiving a promotion to brigadier general.”

Eastridge said many people helped him throughout his career.

“There is no way to thank everyone,” he said. “I have learned from each and every one of you with each interaction I have had over time to achieve this great career milestone.”

Eastridge thanked his family for their support in his career.

“You have supported me throughout my career and continue to support me through all these different commitments as well as long-term mobilizations,” he said. “I knew with my supporting cast everything would be okay at home.”

Eastridge is no stranger to military service. He was the grandson of an Army Air Corps veteran of World War II, the son of an Air Force veteran and the father of an Air Force veteran.

“Although my grandfather, father, and my son are no longer with us, I want them to know they inspired and encouraged me during my career.”

Eastridge, who interviewed for a position at Mercedes-Benz in 2001, a month before the terrorist attacks of September 11, also thanked Mercedes-Benz Financial Services for their many years of support.

“After 9/11, and for my first seven years of employment there, I was gone for three of those years due to military commitments,” he said. “They were always there supporting me. I knew everything would be okay when I got back and today they continue to support me.

Eastridge said it’s difficult to balance time with family, civilian jobs, and military commitments.

“I often say it’s like air inside a balloon,” he said. “The balloon is flexible, but sometimes someone doesn’t get the air they need, and sometimes someone needs a little more air like during deployments. I just hope you understand when that happens.”

Eastridge said there are times in one’s career which become defining moments.

“I came in as a private knowing nothing at 17 years old,” he said. “When I was promoted to staff sergeant that defining period helped me understand the noncommissioned officers corps. That helped me as a commander to work collaboratively with NCOs to accomplish the mission.”

Eastridge offered advice to fellow Soldiers.

“You never know what the future holds,” he said. “Take advantage of every opportunity. Doors will be opened and paths established but it is still your responsibility to perform well and know how to work best with your supporting cast to succeed.”

Eastridge said he is excited for the new challenges which lie ahead.

“I’m excited for this new opportunity,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with everyone in this new role.”