Hometown Military News for Sept. 30, 2016:
Illinois Guard soldier’s invention to save Army hundreds of thousands of dollars
By Staff Sgt. Robert R. Adams, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. Wesley Todd, of La Porte, Indiana, invented a device that improves Soldier safety and equipment longevity while working on a light-towed Howitzer.
It is being adopted by the entire U.S. Army later this year and is projected to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps more.
“I am shocked that the Army is going to adopt something I designed myself,” said Todd, a noncommissioned officer with the 333rd Military Police Company in Freeport and a military technician with the Combined Support Maintenance Shop at North Riverside Armory in North Riverside.
“It’s an honor to know I improved the Army in a small way,” Todd said.
Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, said Todd’s invention will affect the Army in more than a small way.
“This soldier’s invention will increase safety and save the entire Army hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment parts and repair time,” Hayes said. “These are resources that will now be able to be devoted to other U.S. Army priorities. Sgt. Todd and his leadership have set a great example. 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. I’m proud to have these soldiers under my command.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steve Murphy, Armament Supervisor at the Combined Support Maintenance Shop at North Riverside Armory in North Riverside said Todd took it upon himself to design and fabricate the device when he saw Soldiers struggling to remove a seized-up muzzle break on a light towed Howitzer.
The device invented by Todd makes removing seized muzzle breaks much easier, without the type of force that could damage the Howitzer tube or its rifling grooves. Just the tube of the light-towed Howitzer can cost over $265,000.
“It can be very difficult to remove the muzzle break,” said Murphy. “They sometimes seize up in varying weather conditions.”
Sgt. 1st Class Edger Gomez of Oak Lawn with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Champaign and an artillery repairman as a military technician in the armament section at the CSMS in North Riverside, Illinois, said it takes far less force to remove the muzzle break with the device and eliminates the chances of damaging the equipment.
“This is a very helpful tool and I believe it will be very helpful throughout the Army as well,” said Gomez. “It’s awesome that this came from our state and he is an awesome machinist.”
Murphy said soldiers normally had to take a sledge hammer to the muzzle break to remove it, which frequently damaged the muzzle break and could damage the artillery tube.
“Using this device instead of a sledge hammer has and will continue to keep the Soldier safer when working on the equipment,” said Murphy. “The device has also made the process much faster.”
Despite the invention’s big impact, Todd, a machinist at the CSMS said it was just in another day’s work.
“Making things is a part of my job,” said Todd. “This is by far the most impactful thing I have ever made though.”
Todd, who has worked as a machinist at the CSMS for three years, said he normally repairs damaged parts and makes new parts for military vehicles and equipment.
“This was the first part that I designed myself and then fabricated,” said Todd. “Normally I fabricate parts from manuals in the shop.”
Todd said he hopes he improved the U.S. Army by inventing the part.
“I have no doubt this device will go on to make a huge impact to the efficiency of removing the muzzle break Army-wide,” said Murphy. “He is an unbelievable machinist and I am very proud of him for stepping up when there was a need.”
The Army has approved Todd’s device for total adoption. It is scheduled to be implemented Dec. 31, 2016.
Col. Chestnut retires after 32 years of service
SPRINGFIELD – Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Illinois Military Academy in Springfield for a retirement ceremony to celebrate the 32-year career of Col. Paul Fanning of Chestnut.
Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, Jr. of Springfield, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, presided over Fanning’s retirement ceremony. Fanning was presented multiple awards by Hayes, including a bronze eagle statue, the Legion of Merit Medal and the Illinois Distinguished Service Medal.
Fanning has had a multitude of assignments over his 32-year career including company and battalion command; multiple director positions including information management, joint training and doctrine and personnel; culminating with a position as the regimental commander of the 129th Regional Training Institute where he led the 129th to its triennial accreditation and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine’s Installation of Excellence award across all of its training programs.
“Paul was always leading change,” said Hayes. “He’s had impact at every level. You want people to challenge the way things are going today, you want that change to make yourself better, and that’s Paul to a ‘T’.”
Fanning told those in attendance that all of the success in his career was all due to the people around him.
“I’ve had a lot of success in my career, but I didn’t do it alone,” said Fanning. “I surrounded myself with like-minded, smart people and because of those people we were able to affect great change and accomplish great things. If there’s one piece of advice that I can offer the leaders in this room, it would be: Take care of your Soldiers and they’ll take care of you. It’s about them, your Soldiers will drive your success.”
766th Brigade Engineer Battalion Welcomes New Commander
DECATUR – The 766th Brigade Engineer Battalion held a change of command ceremony at the Decatur armory in Decatur, Sept. 18. Maj. Timothy J. Newman took over for Lt. Col. Douglas M. Masters of Naperville. Masters commanded the 766th for the last two years.
Newman, of Mahomet, enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1999 as part of the 3rd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery in Marion, Illinois. He commissioned as an engineer officer in 2002. Newman deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 with the Bilateral Embedded Support Team and deployed to Kuwait in 2013 with the 108th Sustainment Brigade. Newman served as the Facilities/Contract Construction Management Engineer director before being selected to take command of the 766th.
Masters was selected to lead the 1886th Engineer Facility Detachment, a new unit being stood up for the Illinois Army National Guard.