Guard Spotlight: Illinois

Guard Soldier’s Invention Has Army-Wide Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A Soldier with the Illinois Army National Guard has invented a device that improves Soldier safety and equipment longevity, and has recently been adopted Army-wide.

Sergeant (SGT) Wesley Todd, a machinist with the Illinois Army National Guard’s Combined Support Maintenance Shop at North Riverside Armory in North Riverside, Ill., has designed and fabricated a tool that makes removing a seized howitzer muzzle brake easier and safer for Soldiers when they make repairs or perform maintenance tasks on the guns.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2) Steve Murphy, armament supervisor at the maintenance shop, said SGT Todd took it upon himself to create the device when he saw Soldiers struggling to remove a seized muzzle brake on a light howitzer.

“It can be very difficult to remove the muzzle brake,” said CW2 Murphy. “They sometimes seize up in varying weather conditions.”

SGT Wesley Todd of the Illinois Army National Guard checks the measurements on a device he invented that makes removing a seized howitzer muzzle brake easier and safer for Soldiers when they perform repairs or maintenance on the guns. The device has been adopted by the Army, and is scheduled to be manufactured and distributed to maintenance organizations Army-wide. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Adams)

SGT Todd’s device allows Soldiers to apply enough force to remove a seized muzzle brake, but in a way that doesn’t damage the gun tube or its rifling grooves.

Soldiers would normally use sledgehammers to free a seized muzzle brake, which often resulted in additional damage to the muzzle brake, and had the potential to damage other parts as well, said CW2 Murphy, adding that just the gun tube of a howitzer can cost more than $265,000.

“Using this device instead of a sledgehammer has and will continue to keep the Soldier safer when working on the equipment,” said CW2 Murphy. “The device has also made the process much faster.”

SGT Todd, who has worked as a machinist at the shop for three years, said he normally repairs damaged parts and makes new parts for military vehicles and equipment.

“It’s an honor to know I improved the Army in a small way,” he said.

After review of the device, it was approved and scheduled for Army-wide implementation by the end of the year.

“This Soldier’s invention will increase safety and save the entire Army hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment parts and repair time,” said Army Maj. Gen. (MG) Richard J. Hayes, adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. “These are resources that will now be able to be devoted to other U.S. Army priorities.”

For MG Hayes, it serves as an example of leadership and initiative.  

“SGT Todd has shown how a single Illinois Army National Guard Soldier can improve a process for the entire Army, and his leadership has shown us a great example of how to listen to your Soldiers’ ideas and help them implement positive changes,” he said. 

Despite the invention’s big impact, Todd said it was just another day’s work. 

“Making things is a part of my job,” he said. “This is by far the most impactful thing I have ever made, though.”

So if you’re interested in making an impact as a Soldier, whether it’s to help your fellow Soldiers, help your country or your local community, learn more about Guard careers on our job board, where you will find more than 150 options. Contact your local recruiter for specifics on jobs that interest you, and find out about the benefits of this part-time service.

From original article by Staff Sgt. Robert Adams, Illinois Army National Guard, which appeared in September 2016 in the news section of


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Women Break the Last Barrier on the Battlefield

In honor of Women’s History Month, On Your Guard takes a look back at women’s roles in protecting and defending their country, and how they will change in 2016.

As far back as the Revolutionary War, women have served alongside the American military working on the battlefield as nurses, cooks, water bearers, and laundresses. Some women went so far as to disguise themselves as men so they could serve as Soldiers in the Civil War. And as early as the Spanish-American War in 1898, female nurses served Army hospitals in and outside the country as far away as The Philippines and Guam.

By the 1940s, as World War II raged, more than 400,000 American women were serving their country in nearly every non-combat job. Fifty years later, women were serving on combat ships and flying fighter jets, but continued to face barriers that kept them out of the running to serve in direct ground combat roles – that is, until this year.

Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently announced that after experimenting with and studying the matter for the last three years, all jobs in every branch of the military would be open to women who meet the qualifications for these positions beginning this year.

The announcement is undoubtedly welcomed by SSG Sonia Buchanan, whom On Your Guard interviewed last year. SSG Buchanan, the first woman to serve in her regiment in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, was looking forward to pursuing 19D Cavalry Scout as her newest military occupational specialty (MOS) as soon as it opened to women. This MOS is referred to as the eyes and ears of the Army, responsible for reconnaissance work on the battlefield.

2LT Tracci Dorgan-Bandy, whom On Your Guard spoke with last week, is the first female artillery officer in the South Carolina National Guard. Advising women who want to pursue combat positions to be fully aware of the physical and mental requirements of the job, she echoed some of the statements made by Secretary Carter, who said “… for a variety of reasons, equal opportunity likely will not mean equal participation by men and women in all specialties. There must be no quotas or perception thereof. 

As SSG Buchanan predicted last year, men and women will be given equal consideration when it comes to jobs, but not everyone is suited for a combat role.

“For the females who are physically strong and mentally capable, I would encourage anybody anytime to go for it and keep pushing the boundaries,” she says. “It’s only because women in the past have kept pushing and pushing for integration that now it is happening.”

For more on how women have been immersing themselves into combat-oriented jobs over the last few years, see this video from the Department of Defense. 

Some of the National Guard MOSs that will be open to women this year for the first time include those in infantry, ground defense, and Special Forces. Explore these careers and more on our job board, and contact a recruiter today. As of 2016, the opportunities are truly limitless.

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