Elgin Soldier Retires After 27 Years of Service in the Illinois National Guard

Story by Sgt. Ryan L. Twist, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Photo courtesy of Lt. Col John Tammes/ Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Bowman of Downers Grove, the Illinois Army National Guard Land Forces Command Sergeant Major with Joint Forces Headquarters in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, IL (03/29/2012)(readMedia)-- Soldiers make sacrifices every day during their military careers in order to live and uphold the Army values. Service members' families sacrifice too, hoping to make up the lost time later.

Lt. Col. John Tammes of Elgin, begins his retirement from the Illinois Army National Guard in July and plans to spend it with his family and friends. Tammes also works as a risk analyst with an insurance agency in Schaumburg.

Tammes, a surface maintenance branch chief in logistics with the Illinois Army National Guard's Joint Forces Headquarters (JFHQ) in Springfield, joined the Illinois Army National Guard 27 years ago, after spending four years in the Army Reserve. He said it never occurred to him to do anything except join the military because he grew up around World War II veterans.

Tammes said he was proof that being honest and dependable can help you go far in the military.

"I started out a private and ended up a lieutenant colonel," Tammes said. "I was neither brilliant, connected nor famous. (I was) just someone who gave my best effort."

Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Bowman of Downers Grove, the Illinois Army National Guard Land Forces Command Sergeant Major with JFHQ, met Tammes during their deployment from March 2004 to March 2005 to Afghanistan. Bowman participated in security operations, which involved humanitarian and civil affairs work where Tammes was the task force civil affairs officer.

Bowman said Tammes' experience as an infantry Soldier was an asset.

"This gave him a tactical vision for situations they were faced with," Bowman said. "He sees things for what they really are."

Bowman said he and Tammes crossed paths many times while on their deployment.

"We worked closely together on many (operations), where we risked everything to accomplish missions," said Bowman, who is also a Reserve Officers' Training Corps, Military Science Instructor at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. "His honesty to our Soldiers and everybody else on the base helped create an environment that guaranteed the success of our group."

Tammes was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his deployment to Bosnia in 1997 and a Bronze Star during his Operation Enduring Freedom deployment to Afghanistan in 2004. He was also awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his service during his deployment to Iraq in 2007.

Even though he is retiring, Tammes told his fellow Soldiers to hang in there.

"Please stick with it over the coming years," he said. "Times will be lean and demands will continue, but you are the best, most experienced and proven Soldiers the Guard has ever had."

Bowman said the Guard is losing a great Soldier and leader.

"He will be missed, period," Bowman said. "He is a professional with amazing experience in both his military and civilian careers. He will not be easily replaced. I will miss him not being on that wall with me, even though I know he will pick up a weapon and join the rest of us if called."