MARSEILLES, Ill. - Polish Army Col. Edward Chyla presented the bronze Polish Armed Forces Medal to four Illinois National Guard members March 25.
The Illinois National Guard Soldiers received the medal from the commander of the Polish Territorial Defense Force Training Center for their work last May and June with training Polish Territorial Defense Force Soldiers in Poland on mass casualty response and emergency medical care, use of the Javelin anti-tank system, and sniper operations. Many of the Polish trainers have helped train Ukrainian Soldiers as they fight off the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Poland and the Illinois National Guard have been partners since 1993 under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program.
Receiving the Polish Armed Forces Medal were:
-Illinois Army National Guard Capt. Drew Weaver of Mahomet, the commander of A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment. Weaver is an Illinois State Police trooper in his civilian life. He was the sniper officer in charge of the training team last year.
-Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. Elizabeth Hernandez of Murphysboro, a senior medic for the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, and a Jackson County emergency medical technician in her civilian life. Hernandez helped train Polish Soldiers in mass casualty response and emergency medical care.
-Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. Albert Herda of East Dundee, an electrical worker for RPM Building Solutions in his civilian life and a medic for the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment. Herda also helped train Polish Soldiers in mass casualty response and emergency medical care.
-Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Paul Herrick of Tinley Park, the full-time readiness noncommissioned officer for the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment. Herrick, a reconnaissance platoon sergeant, assisted the Polish in the infantry training.
Chyla said he recommended the Soldiers for the Polish medals, and they were approved by Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak “in recognition of outstanding efforts and cooperation between the Polish Armed Forces and the United States.”
Before presenting the medals, Chyla and his team conducted marksmanship training and observed U.S. Army range operations with Illinois Army National Guard 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers at Marseilles. That evening, they attended a Gold Star Mission banquet in Springfield.
The nonprofit Gold Star Mission keeps the memory of Illinois’ fallen service members alive. Several Polish Soldiers traveled to Illinois last year to participate in the organization’s annual Gold Star 500 bicycle ride.
The Polish Territorial Defense Force Soldiers conducted training exchanges throughout Illinois with the Illinois National Guard this week.