An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | June 12, 2024

Approximately 550 Illinois National Guard Soldiers Activated for Overseas Mission

Approximately 550 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment and Company B, 766th Engineer Brigade, based in Marseilles, were joined by family and friends at mobilization ceremonies in various locations June 3-6 as they prepare to deploy for an overseas mission in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

            “As we send these Soldiers off, I take great comfort in knowing the steady hands of their leaders will be guiding these units,” said Governor JB Pritzker, during the mobilization ceremony for the Kankakee-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment June 4 at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. ”Serving as the Commander-in-Chief of Illinois’ Citizen-Soldiers is a humbling responsibility and one I do not take lightly. You embody our very highest values. Citizens who have gone beyond the call of duty to serve your community, state, and country in extraordinary fashion.”

            Governor Pritzker called the Soldiers’ service “heroes work.”

            “That call of service takes you around the world to a region in need of your strength and courage,” he said. “In many cases you may be the difference between life and death for your fellow Americans. That’s heroes work.”

            Governor Pritzker thanked friends, families, and loved ones for being the support system for their Soldier.

            “Thank you for your sacrifice. You are the support system for those who protect us,” he said. “As you count down the days until they return, our sacred promise is to keep you safe and comforted.”

            Governor Pritzker also offered words of encouragement to the approximately 125 Soldiers from Company C who will deploy.

            “I hope you carry the entire strength of this state with you, knowing we stand behind you every step of the way,” he said.

            Nemo Resideo or “leave no one behind” was the message shared by Elgin Mayor David Kaptain during the mobilization ceremony June 3 at Elgin Community College for Elgin-based Company B, 1-178th.

            “This is a family. We take care of each other. We will not leave anyone behind,” he said. “That’s your commitment to the Soldiers standing next to you – to not leave anyone behind. That’s the commitment from the city of Elgin – we’re not going to forget you and we’re not going to forget your families.”

            Kaptain assured the Elgin-based Soldiers their families will be taken care of while the unit is deployed.

            “If they need help, they need to ask,” Kaptain said. “If you need help, you need to ask.”

            Brig. Gen. Michael Eastridge, Deputy Assistant Adjutant General – Army, expressed his gratitude to the Soldiers and families for their selfless service to this great nation.

            “Today, we stand together to honor the brave men and women of Company B as they prepare to deploy in support of Operation Spartan Shield,” he said. “This deployment is not only a testament to their dedication and courage but also to the crucial contribution to our nation’s national security and international stability.”

            Eastridge addressed the families’ concerns for their Soldiers.

            “We understand this mission raises concerns for their safety,” he said. “To the families, know the military has implemented comprehensive measures to ensure their security. Your Soldiers have the best training, best equipment, and best support system available. Your support is crucial. They will carry the strength of knowing their families stand behind them. Your resilience and encouragement are as crucial to their success as their training and equipment.”

            Maj. Gen. Rodney Boyd, The Adjutant General of Illinois, and Commander of the Illinois National Guard, emphasized four things the Soldiers need to do during the deployment.

            “Things are going to be busy during this mission,” he said. “But they will be busy at home as well. So, the first thing, keep communications open with your families.”

             Boyd told the Soldiers they will need to remain flexible.

            “Things will get stagnated at times, but it’s up to you to use the opportunity to learn something and do something,” he said. “Challenge yourself to come back a better person than before you left.”

            He encouraged the Soldiers to trust their leadership.

            “The battalion will be spread out for this mission and some of the units will fall under different authority,” he said. “Trust that authority.”

            Lastly, Boyd encouraged the Soldiers to represent the Illinois National Guard to the best of their ability.

            “It’s not about you, it’s about the team,” he said. “It’s a team effort.”

            State Rep. Jackie Haas representing legislative District 79 told the Soldiers from Company C that serving our nation is a challenging yet rewarding task that only a select few have the honor of doing.

            “It requires the bravest and strongest amongst us to rise to the challenge and fight to defend our rights and liberties while sacrificing so much,” she said. “Without individuals like you, our country and world would be far less safe.”

            Brig. Gen. Justin Osberg, Director of the Illinois National Guard Joint Staff, told Marseilles-based Company B, 766th Brigade Engineer Battalion, he was honored to send them off for their overseas mission during the June 6 Coal City High School ceremony.

            “You are the best of not only the Illinois National Guard, but the U.S. Army,” he said, while also noting the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II. “Could this generation do what those Soldiers did on D-Day? There are 99 reasons standing in front of me that prove the answer is yes. Thank you for answering our nation’s call.”

            Osberg gave the Soldiers three goals to accomplish during the mission.

            “Stay in regular communication with your family, friends and employers,” he said. “Set goals for yourself and lastly, keep each other safe and look out for one another.”

            State Sen. Tom Bennett, representing District 53, said he was honored to be at the Coal City mobilization ceremony.

            “This deployment is about protecting our families, community, state, and the great country we love and are part of,” he said.

            Capt. Bryce Sesemann, Commander, Company B, 766th BEB, said the unit is like a second family.

            “I grew up as an officer in this company,” he said. “As a platoon leader, I had outstanding noncommissioned officers to mentor me and then I had two great company commanders. When it came time for company command, there was only one company I wanted to command – Bravo Company of the 766th BEB. Thank you for answering the call to ensure our nation’s liberties are protected.”

            Approximately 130 Soldiers from the Bartonville-based Company A, 1-178th, formed on the football field at Limestone Community High School in Peoria June 4 for the unit’s mobilization ceremony.

            “Your mission will take you to the leading edge of today’s ever evolving and challenging operating environment. I have the highest confidence you will be successful,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Philip Barber, State Command Sergeant Major. “Each of you have prepared your minds, bodies, and personal equipment. Your leadership has built the team or manned the formation to meet the mission requirements of the combatant commander.”

            Barber offered the Soldiers advice.

            “During your communications on both sides, both the Soldiers and the families, always take a minute to think before you say something,” he said. “Neither person will be able to fully understand the full picture of what is going on both at home and overseas. Don’t let the small stuff become unnecessarily contentious.”

            He also encouraged the Soldiers to improve themselves.    

            “While you’re deployed, work on improving yourselves. Work on your physical fitness, read a few books, get an accountability partner and work towards some goals while holding each other to the task,” he said. “Keep in mind you are all wearing the golden cross on your shoulders. A lot of eyes will be on you.”

            Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Butte, 1-178th, said Company A is ready to tackle the missions that will come their way during the deployment, and thanked the Soldiers’ families and friends for their support.

            “The sacrifices of families and friends should be recognized,” he said. “The burdens you carry at home while your Soldiers are deployed is shared in our hearts. Thank you for what you do here as it allows us to do what we must do.”

            Capt. Matthew Rowe, commander, Company A, said now is the time for the unit to put their training into action.

“This week, we embark on a mission that demands our utmost dedication, discipline, and courage,” he said. “We will take on this role diligently and stay the course until our mission is complete. Each of you has trained hard and shown unwavering commitment to our cause. Now is the time to put that training into action and answer our nation’s call to service.”

            Rowe said it’s time for the Soldiers to stand firm as they face their next challenges.

            “Support one another and uphold the values that define us as Soldiers,” he said. “Stay vigilant, stay focused, and stay true to each other.”

            Lt. Col. Andrew Salmo, commander, 1st Battalion, 178th INF, thanked four groups of people during the mobilization ceremonies.

            “Thank you to our Soldiers’ employers. Your support before, during, and after a deployment is critical to the morale and success of the mission,” he said. “To our veterans in the audience, the leadership you’ve shown and the standards you set for us to follow is the reason we’re successful. To the Soldiers of the battalion, you are ready for any mission. And to our families, long days lie ahead. You can’t stop the clock and we will reunite again.