Michigan Soldiers Promoted by Top Army Official

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy promotes Pvt. Brandon Banks of the Michigan Army National Guard.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy promotes Pvt. Brandon Banks of the Michigan Army National Guard.

Story by Master Sgt. David Eichaker
Michigan National Guard

DETROIT, – Military promotions are reserved for the best and highest caliber Soldier through individual hard work and dedication. These milestones within a Soldier’s career are typically done by local leadership, but three Michigan Guard Soldiers experienced their promotions at the highest level within the U.S. Army—from the Secretary of the Army.

“I was honestly shocked for a second, but overall I am so honored because a promotion like that doesn’t happen every day,” said Detroit resident Private First Class Brandon Banks, 1434th Engineer Company, 507th Engineer Battalion, 177th Military Police Brigade, Michigan Army National Guard. “Especially being promoted by a 4-star general and the Secretary of the Army.”

Others felt the same sentiment.

“We got promoted by the Secretary of the Army and a 4-star general which was awesome,” said Spc. Oralia Gomez. “With everything going on, in those few moments that we got promoted – it felt really good.”

“I forgot about the bad for a minute and was able to celebrate myself and my two other battle buddies,” said Gomez.

The Hon. Ryan McCarthy, secretary of the Army and the Army’s vice chief, Gen. Joseph Martin, visited Michigan Guard Soldiers as part of U.S. Northern Command, which is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in response to COVD-19. The Army leaders’ visit will be memorable for the newly promoted Soldiers.

“To be promoted by the Secretary of the Army, Ryan McCarthy and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General Joseph Martin; that is something I will never forget,” said Spc. Veronica Passkiewicz. “I think it’s great they are still holding promotions during this time of the pandemic.”

Although this mission has special memories for the newly promoted Soldiers, they understand the importance of their missions.

“Completing any task given at the TCF warehouse such as helping receive shipments, moving shipments, and organizing them, is my priority,” said Passkiewicz. “I am also disinfecting surfaces and helping other stations as needed.”

With so much work do to be done, the tasks vary from Solider to Soldier.

“My team and I are specifically working in receiving, so anytime shipments of supplies come to the warehouse, we unload and inventory what was received and then we send it over to bulk storage,” said Gomez, adding that they do other jobs when they are needed as well.

The Michigan National Guard is made up of dedicated citizen-Soldiers and Airmen and is the bedrock upon which communities thrive. It is trusted to be an integral partner in protecting and forging Michigan’s future. One mission is homeland defense and supporting local communities.

“Every mission that we do has a positive impact because in order for an operation to run smoothly, everyone from the ground up must be completing their assigned tasks,” said Passkiewicz. “From receiving the correct shipment, gathering the exact numbers for inventory, to stocking it on the shelves in an organized fashion; everything flows smoother for everyone involved in the operation.”

The West Bloomfield, Michigan native’s peers shared the same feeling.

“This is my first time being activated for anything,” said Gomez, who calls Saginaw home. “I’ve been in for two years but most of that was going to recruit sustainment battalion and training because I was a split-option so it feels good to be doing what I signed up to do.”

Committing to the greater cause and personal sacrifices are just one small trait Michigan Guard members possess.

In addition being activated for the COVID-19 response, Passkiewicz is attending Lawrence Tech for a bachelors of science in construction management.

“Attending the virtual class meetings is difficult but the university is accommodating,” said Passkiewicz. “Being away from my family and dog, Taz, is rough but I know that every mission is for a great cause, of which I am glad to participate in.”

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