SPRINGFIELD - Before the planes hit and before the towers crumbled, it was a routine Tuesday morning for four Illinois National Guardsmen. One Soldier was teaching in his classroom while a future Illinois Soldier was listening to her teacher in biology class. Across the world, an Illinois Airman arrived in Germany for annual training. Another Airman, then with the New York National Guard, was on Long Island when disaster struck.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Carlock
When Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Carlock, of Astoria, joined the Illinois Army National Guard in 1993, he did it because he wanted to continue his family heritage of military service while getting his education. Soon after, he became a high school teacher in Astoria.
September 11, 2001 another teacher told Carlock what was happening on the east coast. He immediately turned on the TV in his classroom to see it for himself.
“I stopped all of my planned lessons for the day and made all of my students watch everything on the news,” he said. “I urged them to remember that day as it would be a pivotal day in American history and they are to witness it.”
Carlock, who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 44th Chemical Battalion in Macomb, said he was instantly shocked and angered when he witnessed the 9/11 attacks. He then realized, as an Illinois National Guardsman, he needed to be prepared to possibly deploy stateside or abroad because of these attacks.
Carlock eventually deployed in 2004 to Iraq with Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery in Macomb.
Since he has joined, witnessed those terrorist attacks and deployed, Carlock said he is proud of his service in the Illinois Army National Guard.
“I believe that we have proven ourselves as a professional organization that deserves the same respect that the Active Army receives,” he said. “From our efforts and professionalism, I think the National Guard is looked at in a much more positive light compared to the years prior to Sept. 11, 2001. I feel very proud that I have been able to serve at such a crucial time.”
Sgt. Sara Minder