By Adam Winters
LAKE OZARK, Mo. – Missouri’s adjutant general invited Soldiers, Airmen and family members from across the state to gather in celebration of the National Guard’s 376th birthday during a formal ball at the lake of the Ozarks recently.
More than 400 Citizen-Soldiers, Airman, families and distinguished guests recognized the organization for its many great accomplishments from 1636 to 2012. Major General Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard presided over the ceremony.
“I can’t say enough about everyone in the Missouri National Guard,” Danner said. “And how proud I am to be a member of this organization and having served with most of them over three decades having seen them grow with the Guard. This has been an experience I wouldn’t want to have missed.”
Danner credited former Chief of Staff, Col. Wendul Hagler for much of the guard success in handling dozens of natural disaster relief efforts over the past few years.
Hagler was honored by many of his former colleagues for his service to the Missouri National Guard.
“We paid homage to our former Chief of Staff as he moves on to work at the National Guard Bureau,” said Chief Warrant Officer Michelle Struemph, the state command chief warrant officer. “We know he will do great things for our organization as a whole.”
Lieutenant Col. Larry Crowder and Maj. Mike Roberts emceed the event with a mixture of personal testimonies, jokes, music, and tributes to current and former Guardsmen.
Several Guardsmen were presented with awards including; Col. Gary Gilmore – Conspicuous Service Medal, Lt. Col. Nancy Jones – Conspicuous Service Medal, Maj. Gen. Danner – Legion of Merit Medal, Col. Wendul Hagler – Legion of Merit Medal, Col. (Ret) Michelle Hovland – Meritorious Service Medal.
Music was provided by the Missouri National Guard Band Ceasefire. The honor guard from Smith-Cotton High school JROTC posted and retired the colors for the evening’s event and provided a special drill and ceremony show.