USA — Face of Defense: Guardsman Retires After 56 Years

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A young man work­ing on a farm in Illi­nois decid­ed to enlist in the Nation­al Guard in March 1953 after he received a chal­lenge from his friend and employ­er.

 -
Chief War­rant Offi­cer 4 Nel­son “Gene” Blakey of Moweaqua, Ill., retired in June 2010 after 56 years of ser­vice with the Illi­nois Army Nation­al Guard.
U.S. Army pho­to by Spc. Michael Cama­cho
Click to enlarge

The Kore­an War’s cease-fire was near, and Pres­i­dent Dwight D. Eisen­how­er had just start­ed his first term in office.

Many things have changed since then, but one thing did­n’t change: the young man’s com­mit­ment to serve his coun­try.

Army Chief War­rant Offi­cer 4 Nel­son “Gene” Blakey of Moweaqua, Ill., retired June 1 after 56 years in the Illi­nois Nation­al Guard.

“I don’t think we will ever find any­one to replace him,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Don­nie R. Park­er of Lin­coln, Ill. “I think we can find some­one who can do the job — we have per­son­nel in the office who are cov­er­ing down on the things that he was respon­si­ble for and are get­ting things done — but as far as the per­son, I do not think you will ever find any­one who will com­pare with the per­son that Mr. Blakey is.”

Blakey start­ed his mil­i­tary career work­ing in a U.S. Prop­er­ty and Fis­cal Office ware­house here. He pro­gressed through the ranks to sergeant major, and then from chief war­rant offi­cer 2 to chief war­rant offi­cer 4. Blakey hung up his boots and retired as a tra­di­tion­al Illi­nois Nation­al Guards­man in 1994, but he con­tin­ued to work for the mil­i­tary as a state employ­ee for 16 more years.

Although he has expe­ri­enced many things through­out his career, Blakey said, his last posi­tion was his most enjoy­able.

“My most reward­ing posi­tion was the last job I had work­ing in the per­son­nel depart­ment, because I was able to help enlist­ed peo­ple,” he said. “If they had a prob­lem and could not get it solved with­in their unit, I would try to help get it solved. I worked there from 1975 until I retired.”

Oth­ers attest to Blakey’s pas­sion and abil­i­ty to help sol­diers solve prob­lems.

“Mr. Blakey, in the time that I worked with him, was a per­son that was very inter­est­ed and con­cerned with tak­ing care of sol­diers,” Park­er said. “He would go out of his way to do what­ev­er need­ed to be done to see that the sol­diers were being tak­en care of in a way they should be. He was a very hum­ble, out­go­ing per­son who was will­ing to assist in any way pos­si­ble, whether it was part of his job descrip­tion or not.”

While Blakey’s career near­ly spanned the length of three 20-year mil­i­tary careers, he said he con­tin­ued to serve in the Illi­nois Nation­al Guard because of his friends and fam­i­ly. His wife, Bon­nie Blakey, also is retired from the Illi­nois Nation­al Guard.

“My fam­i­ly has been sup­port­ive of me,” Blakey said. “My wife retired in 1999, and her sup­port and involve­ment has been very impor­tant. If your fam­i­ly knows what you are doing, they stay with you and help you through every­thing.”

Most peo­ple work­ing at Camp Lin­coln here knew Blakey, and many oth­ers through­out the state con­nect­ed with him dur­ing their careers as well.

“He def­i­nite­ly had the abil­i­ty to mix his pro­fes­sion­al career with friend­ships,” said Ray Per­ry of Spring­field, per­son­nel sup­port offi­cer for the Illi­nois Nation­al Guard and a retired colonel with the Illi­nois Army Nation­al Guard.

“I always enjoyed mak­ing my morn­ing rounds and get­ting the lat­est news or thought for the day from him,” Per­ry said. “He always had the abil­i­ty to put a smile on your face.”

Although Blakey has retired, he does not look to take it easy. Instead, he is focus­ing his atten­tion on things that need to be improved around his house.

“I will have hors­es to take care of, along with house and barn work to do,” he said. “I will not slow down. I will keep going as long as I can.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →