Illinois National Guard Field Artillery Battalion Honors Military Veterans

Story by U.S. Army Sgt. Aleah Castrejon, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 123rd Field Artillery

SINAI, EGYPT (11/09/2010)(readMedia)-- Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, commemorates the ending of World War I and honors the veterans of the armed services. The Illinois National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery (FA) Regiment honors military veterans Nov. 11 in Sinai, Egypt.

Many of the FA Soldiers have been on multiple deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Japan and other places, but for some this is the first deployment. The Soldiers adjust to being away from their friends and family for a year, while adjusting to the military life full time. This is Sgt. 1st Class Greg Jones of Port Byron, sixth deployment.

"We all volunteered to do what is asked of us when we joined the military," said Jones with A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 123rd FA. "For me this is just what I feel is expected in the military culture. When you are needed to do a mission, it does not matter what the mission is, we should strive to do it the best we can. Everyone in the military is a volunteer and should be recognized for that."

Soldiers volunteer to deploy for different reasons. For some, it is a time to be with friends.

"Being a veteran means a great deal to me," said Spc. Neil Armstrong of Macomb, C Battery, 2nd Battalion 123rd FA. "I was in the military in the 90s and took a break in my service for eight years. When the 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery deployed and I went to its send off in 2004, it bothered me that I was not going with my old comrades. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride since my return to service. It definitely means more to me now, being a veteran."

The FA has many great opportunities. While the Soldiers have specific jobs and a mission to complete they also have the chance to further their education and experience a different country with a new culture, language and people.

"I am the platoon sergeant for first platoon A Battery," said Jones. "I help coordinate the mission tasks required to successfully complete the mission, work with training noncommissioned officers to make sure we meet training requirements, ensure any items required for mission or training are available to the Soldiers and support any issues that might arise. I have taken the time during this deployment to try and better my physical fitness. Past deployments I have worked on maxing out my Army correspondence courses and learning about the local culture."

This is the first deployment for Spc. Amber Gallagher of East Moline with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 123rd FA. "It feels like I am a part of something that is so much larger than myself and I am proud to represent our country," she said.

The family of Sgt. 1st Class Greg Jones of Port Bryon has volunteered to interview with media. To coordinate interviews, contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569 or ngilstaffpao@ng.army.mil.

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