Top guardsmen, late Soldiers and Airmen honored at Michigan National Guard Memorial Pass in Review

07.02.2019

Story by 1st Lt. Andrew Layton

Michigan National Guard 

A joint color guard consisting of Airmen and Soldiers from the Michigan National Guard participates in the 2019 Michigan National Guard Memorial and Pass in Review, Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center, Grayling, Mich., June 28, 2019 (Michigan National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Andrew Layton/released).

GRAYLING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general, Michigan National Guard, presided over the Michigan National Guard Memorial and Pass in Review ceremony at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, Mich., June 28, 2019.

At the annual tribute to Michigan National Guard members deceased in the last calendar year, Whitmer and Rogers also presented medals and trophies to the Michigan National Guard’s Soldiers and Airmen of the year for 2018-19. The event was attended by approximately 150 family members and guests, with more than 400 Soldiers and Airmen participating in the formal “Pass in Review” tradition.

It was the first time for Whitmer and Rogers to have officiated the event since the beginning of Whitmer’s administration January 1.

In their remarks, Whitmer and Rogers emphasized the accomplishments of the Michigan National Guard over the past 12 months, including support for exercise Northern Strike, a signature annual readiness event hosted by the Michigan National Guard at Camp Grayling and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center each summer. Beginning in 2012, Northern Strike has grown to become the Department of Defense’s largest joint, reserve component exercise.

Northern Strike 19 is scheduled to be held July 21 – Aug. 3.

“I look forward to seeing the joint exercises at Northern Strike coming up soon,” said Whitmer. “This training not only allows the Michigan National Guard to be leaders on the battlefield, but to know that we are leaders off the battlefield, as well.”

Whitmer also underscored the importance of strengthening the Michigan National Guard’s ties globally with the national armed forces of Latvia and Liberia under the U.S. National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program (SPP).

The names of 88 Michigan National Guard personnel deceased in the last calendar year – most of whom had retired from duty – were also read as a tribute to their lives and service.

“This is not only a memorial and recognition of all those who have come before us; it’s also a celebration,” Rogers said. “The memorial is for our lost brothers and sisters, but it’s also a recognition for our retirees and the hundreds of thousands who have stood in your place on this parade field and trained in these woods and on these phenomenal ranges – you represent them here today.”

During the formal awards portion of the ceremony, outstanding performers from both the Michigan Army and Air National Guard were recognized by Whitmer, Rogers, and other Michigan National Guard leaders.

Army award recipients were Capt. Jason Rogers, 272d Regional Support Group, Commissioned Officer of the Year; Sgt. 1st Class Jamison G. Yager, 177th Military Police Brigade, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year; Spc. Kenneth E. Klett, Jr., 182d Field Artillery, Soldier of the Year; Spc. Brandon Cohoon, 3-126th Infantry Regiment, Honor Guard of the Year; Staff Sgt. Thomas Clark, III, 1-125th Infantry Regiment, Medical Readiness Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year; and Staff Sgt. Jessica Leahy, 1432d Engineer Company, Rasmus Hanson Award.

Air National Guard recipients were Master Sgt. Melanie Pomerville, 110th Wing, Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year; Master Sgt. John Vanderkooy, 110th Wing, First Sgt. of the Year; Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Smaltz, 127th Wing, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year; and Staff Sgt. Jabett Glenn, 127th Wing, Airman of the Year.

For Whitmer, the day presented an opportunity to affirm her pledge of support as governor to Michigan National Guard Soldiers, Airmen, and their families.

“I will ensure that the sacrifices each of you make will be recognized during and after your service,” she said. “Whether it’s the resources you need while serving, or ensuring the benefits you’ve earned after your service, you will have what you need to be successful.”

After the ceremony, Whitmer spent time interacting with Airmen and Soldiers, performing several re-enlistment ceremonies for personnel assigned to the Michigan National Guard’s 119th Field Artillery Regiment. She even had the occasion to fire two ceremonial rounds from a field artillery piece.

“Your service makes our state, our country, and our world safer – and the people of Michigan are truly grateful for you,” she told personnel. “I want each of you to know that I am proud of what you do and I will have your back every step of the way.”

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