By: Silas Allen
Missouri National Guard Public Affairs
Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and Brig. Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, with Soldiers and Airmen of the Missouri National Guard.
Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan gives Staff Sgt. Justin Copley, of Plato, a copy of the Official State Manual of Missouri for 2009-2010 and a framed page featuring his story in the manual.
Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan gives Spc. Heather Cunningham, of Norborne, a copy of the Official State Manual of Missouri for 2009-2010 and a framed page featuring her story in the manual.
Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan gives Brig. Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, a framed picture of a WWI monument in Kansas City.
Brig. Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, at the unveiling of the Official State Manual of Missouri for 2009-2010.
Staff Sgt. Justin Copley, of Plato, shared stories from his deployment to the Salah ad Din Province of Iraq with the St. Clair-based 1175th Military Police Company.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Soldiers and Airmen of the Missouri National Guard are featured in the Official State Manual of Missouri for 2009-2010.
Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan unveiled the manual, commonly called the Blue Book, at a ceremony at the Missouri State Capitol on Nov. 10. Brig. Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, and Staff Sgt. Justin Copley, of Plato, spoke at the ceremony.
Carnahan said her office chose to feature the Missouri National Guard in this year's manual because of the organization's dedicated service to citizens of Missouri. During her remarks, Carnahan recounted a story from President Harry Truman's service in the Missouri National Guard. Truman initially served from 1905 to 1911. At the onset of World War I, Truman reenlisted in the Guard. Earlier, Truman had failed an eye exam, which would have prevented him from reenlisting, so he simply memorized the eye chart.
"The Guard has served nobly, whether it's in peacetime, such as in natural disasters, or in wartime," Carnahan said. "We have quite a group of distinguished Citizen-Soldiers that come from our state. I'm humbled to be with them, and I thank them for their service."
During the ceremony, Copley shared stories from his deployment to the Salah ad Din Province of Iraq. Copley, a school teacher in Plato, deployed with the St. Clair-based 1175th Military Police Company.
During his time in the province, Copley successfully learned the language of the area, which allowed him to build relationships with the local population. Before long, an Iraqi police officer approached Copley and warned him to stay off the road the following day. The unit cancelled its plans for a patrol on that stretch of road. The unit later received word that a roadside bomb had been found and removed that day along the same stretch of road.
Another time, Copley and a few other members of his unit spent a day helping a group of Iraqi teenagers build a school. After finishing work for the day, Copley had his picture taken with the teenagers and gave a copy of the photo to each of them. A week later, as Copley's unit was driving through the city, he noticed a teenager smiling and holding something above his head. As his vehicle drew closer, he realized it was the same photo Copley had given him a week before. Copley said support for American forces in the area has grown.
"Those people are dying for a relationship with the American Soldier," Copley said. "If we're willing to step out of our comfort zone and build that relationship, we'd all be better off."
Featured in the manual are Capt. Raines Warford, of Platte City; Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Crowder, of Florissant; Spc. Lee Walker, of Knox City; Spc. Heather Cunningham, of Norborne; Spc. David Silas, of Arnold; and Sgt. Lawrence Johnson, of Farmington.
During his remarks, Danner called on Cunningham to stand and be recognized. Cunningham returned home from deployment to Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province with Agribusiness Development Team II on Nov. 6. Danner cited the team's work in the province as an example of the National Guard's unique capability in both civilian and military fields.
"We have Guardsmen throughout the world assisting the active component," Danner said. "We bring something else to the fight, and that's our civilian skills."
Danner said the National Guard's role has changed over time to meet the needs of the nation, but it continues to fulfill its mission.
"We continue to serve around the world and here at home every day," he said. "Our theme is 'Always Ready, Always There,' and we intend to live up to it."
To see more pictures from the ceremony visit us at www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard
To see the Official State Manual of Missouri for 2009-2010 visit www.sos.mo.gov/bluebook
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com, www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard, www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG, www.youtube.com/MoNationalGuard, www.myspace.com/missouri_ng