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2018 Memorial Pass and Review

Sept. 5, 2018 | By Webmaster   GRAYLING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, presided over the Michigan National Guard’s Memorial and Pass in Review ceremony at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, Mich., Aug. 24, 2018. Vadnais and Snyder observed an annual tribute to Michigan National Guard members deceased in the last calendar year, and also presented medals and trophies to the Michigan National Guard’s soldiers and airmen of the year for 2017-2018. The event was attended by approximately 200 family and guests, with about 300 soldiers and airmen participating in the formal “Pass in Review” tradition. In their remarks, Vadnais and Snyder emphasized the accomplishments of the Michigan National Guard over the past 12 months, including the deployment of hundreds of soldiers and airmen in support of State and Federal emergencies – notably, relief efforts following the Upper Peninsula’s Houghton-Hancock area flood in June – as well as contingency operations and exercises in the Middle East and Europe. This year, about 300 Michiganders participated in exercise Saber Strike 18, an annual combined-arms exercise held at various locations throughout Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, strengthening Michigan’s bond with the Republic of Latvia under the U.S. National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program (SPP). The Michigan National Guard also has a rich partnership with the armed forces of Liberia under the SPP, and in 2018 embarked on a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Virgin Islands National Guard. “I would use three simple words to describe the [Michigan] National Guard,” said Snyder. “First, it’s important; second, it’s incredible; and third, it’s inspiring.” Snyder cited the vast diversity in skillsets represented within the Michigan National Guard – from fighter pilots, to cyber warriors, to musicians – and its ability to integrate and leverage these capabilities as key to the Michigan National Guard’s effectiveness in domestic operations and abroad. “I’m so proud to be involved with both the Army and Air [components of the Michigan National Guard], because you’re at your best when you’re working together,” said Snyder. “When everyone comes together at something like Northern Strike, it shows the incredible ability to do anything. It’s a concert, in terms of these different fields interacting and working together.” Northern Strike is a signature annual readiness exercise hosted by the Michigan National Guard at Camp Grayling and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center each August. Beginning in 2012, the exercise has grown to become the largest joint reserve component exercise in the U.S. “This year, Northern Strike brought together about 6,500 soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen from 23 states and 9 nations,” said Vadnais. “We are blessed, not only with the beauty of Camp Grayling, but its size, and the airspace box over it – it gives us the ability to touch all five domains of warfare, and that we do.” During the formal awards portion of the ceremony, outstanding performers from both the Michigan Army and Air National Guard were recognized by Snyder, Vadnais, and other Michigan National Guard leaders. Army award recipients were Capt. Brice Kerschen, 210th Military Police Battalion, Commissioned Officer of the Year; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Swanson, 1072nd Maintenance Company, Warrant Officer of the Year; Sgt. Cody Martin, 1775th Military Police Company, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year; Spc. Easton Dutkiewicz, 3-126th Infantry Regiment., Soldier of the Year; Spc. Brandon Cohoon, 3-126th Infantry Regiment., Honor Guard of the Year; and Sgt. Zachary Boyl, 1-182 Field Artillery Battalion, Rasmus Hanson Award. Air National Guard recipients were Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy S. Wohlford, Alpena CRTC, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year; Master Sgt. Amy J. Salazar, 110th Attack Wing, First Sgt. of the Year; Tech. Sgt. Justin A. Smith, Alpena CRTC, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year; Senior Airman Caleb L. Jenkins, 127th Wing, Airman of the Year; and Senior Airman Clifford A. Mua, 127th Wing, Honor Guard of the Year. For Vadnais and Snyder, the day held a special hue of reflection as the final Pass in Review they will preside over in their respective posts. Snyder – who comes to the end of his term in January, 2019 – has served as Governor since 2011. Vadnais has also served as adjutant general since 2011 and plans to retire at the end of 2018. “It’s incredible to see how far this organization has come in the last eight years,” said Snyder. “From Northern Strike, to all the other great things that have taken place…the Michigan National Guard has been ambassadors for Michigan, not just to our nation, but around the world. As an organization, I couldn’t be prouder to have been your commander in chief.”