Courtesy, Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

The Michigan Air National Guard has sent troops to the Middle East to, in the words of military officials, “eliminate” ISIS, the terrorist group responsible for numerous acts of violence in Iraq and Syria. About 350 airmen based at Selfridge Air National Guard base near Detroit are now in the region, as well as twelve A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft. The A-10, nicknamed, the “Warthog,” is equipped with a high-powered rotary cannon capable of destroying a tank.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Last Friday, we brought you the story of William Milzarski, a retired Army officer who was awarded the Purple Heart. He was wounded in 2011 while serving as a platoon leader in Afghanistan. While he was there, Milzarski befriended two Afghan men who worked alongside him as interpreters. Milzarski is now helping those men become American citizens.

Courtesy - Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame

In tandem with Women’s History Month, a new exhibit in Lansing celebrates a unique group of military veterans. Founded in 1947, Post 535 in Lansing is the last all-female American Legion post in the state of Michigan. It was founded by female World War Two veterans, but it also includes women who’ve served in more recent conflicts.

Retired U.S. Army First Lieutenant William Milzarski.
WKAR/Kevin Lavery

    The Purple Heart is the oldest military award the United States of America gives to its service members.  It’s sometimes called “the medal nobody wants,” because it’s given to those killed or wounded in combat.  Now, a mid-Michigan man has joined those ranks.  First Lieutenant William Milzarski is  retired from the U-S Army.  He first enlisted back on August 1, 1990 -- the day before Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.  He spent just a few years in as a heavy construction operator.  He was injured, got out and eventually went to Cooley Law School.

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

Last week, President Obama ordered precision air strikes against members of Islamic State, the militant group that’s fighting U.S.-backed ethnic minorities in northern Iraq.  The president has thus far not committed ground forces to the region. Meanwhile, the United States continues air and ground attacks in Afghanistan.  

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This month, the U-S House will begin debating, amending and re-writing President Obama’s proposed 2015 defense budget. Over the next five years, the administration proposes spending $115-billion above the cap Congress enacted as part of the budget sequestration process. The plan could set up a showdown between Congress and the White House, and that could affect funding for the Michigan National Guard.

Father and son make World War II memorial trip

Aug 13, 2013
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U.S. Army Private Grover Plaunt died in Germany, a month before the end of World War II.  That was April 12, 1945.  He was laid to rest in a military cemetery in The Netherlands. 

Last week, two of Private Plaunt’s descendants:  his son Joe of Muskegon, and Joe’s son Randy, became the first relatives ever to visit his grave in a military cemetery in Margraten, The Netherlands.

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The Lansing Community College’s Military Medic to Paramedic Program is designed help former military medic’s find employment.

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Last week, the rather startling news broke of a Flint woman who was killed while fighting in Syria. According to Syrian state television, 33-year-old Nicole Mansfield was killed by government forces on May 29 while fighting alongside anti-government rebels in the northwestern city of Idlib.

The streets of East Lansing near Michigan State University became a military command post Thursday morning.  Soldiers from the Michigan Army National Guard rolled into town a couple of blocks from Grand River Avenue to test their response to a simulated environmental hazard.  The exercise was part of the Guard’s required training, and evaluators were on hand to judge how well they handled a potentially life-threatening situation. 

WKAR’s Kevin Lavery spent some time with the troops.

Kevin Lavery / WKAR

The military is a unique sub-culture of American life: it speaks in acronyms, it has its own justice system, and it places great responsibility on its members.  Yet despite their high level of training, thousands of veterans who leave the military struggle to find a job.  A new initiative in mid-Michigan is designed to bring warriors to the workplace.