Story By: Sgt. Michael Giles
Posted On: May 17, 2016
AUSTIN, Texas (May 14, 2016) -- The Texas Military Department celebrated the contributions of two lifetime senior enlisted members by inducting them into the Hall of Honor May 14, 2016, at Camp Mabry.
The two retired military leaders, Sgt. Maj. Elwood H. Imken of the Texas Army National Guard, and Chief Master Sgt. Johnny D. Jones of the Texas Air Guard, received recognition for long and impactful military careers when they joined the ranks of the nearly 100 members who have been inducted since the tradition began in 1980.
The Hall of Honor, a room in the Texas Military Forces Museum, displays portraits and histories of military members whose leadership played key roles in transforming the Texas Military Department in positive ways. Texas military regulations state that Hall of Honor nominees need to have demonstrated positive impact through pioneering efforts or by changing the "outlook and focus of the organization."
Imken's 49 years of combined military and civilian federal service included leadership roles in training, disaster relief, and community outreach missions such as Food for Families and Blue Santa. He said he learned early in his career that planning and program management were important for taking care of Soldiers, because training time for Guard Soldiers was limited.
"You knew you had to do good planning," Imken said. "If you didn't do good planning and task analysis on things, you couldn't do anything."
Imken's advice for young service members looking to support the military in positive change is to work to make things less complicated.
"The biggest thing is listen, learn, use common sense and keep things simple," Imken said.
Jones, a 38-year veteran of the Air Force and Air National Guard, served in Vietnam, Desert Storm/Shield as well as Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. His pioneering included breaking a record for transporting loads during Desert Storm and facilitating the emergency airlift of a 30-ton cooling tower by C-130, a feat that had never before been accomplished.
Jones said he was shocked to learn that his image and story would be placed on the wall in the Hall of Honor.
"Many times I've read the narratives and looked at the photos of the people on that wall," Jones said. "I never expected to be on that wall with them."
Hall of Honor inductees such as Imken and Jones have made the Air and Army National Guards far stronger than they used to be, said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General for Texas. He explained that leaders such as these have brought the Texas Military Department out of times when they were under-funded and under-equipped so that they can play key roles in national defense and domestic response.
"We owe our present conditions to them," Nichols said. "It is our honor to honor them, because they honored us by serving. We owe them that same honor to thank them for what they did for us."