Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard
AUSTIN, Texas—The Texas State Guard recognized Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich, 8th Regiment, and Sgt. Miranda Leal, 2nd Regiment, as the outstanding enlisted members of the Texas State Guard for 2018 during the Texas State Guard holiday gala in San Marcos, Texas, December 8, 2018.
Staff Sgt. Illich was recognized as the Texas State Guard Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for 2018 and received the Texas Outstanding Service Medal, which is awarded to a service member of the military forces of this state, another state, or the United States who has performed service in a superior and clearly outstanding manner. Illich was also recognized as the Texas State Guard Army Component’s Outstanding Non-commissioned Officer of 2018 and received the “Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for Service Excellence.”
“I am humbled and honored to be recognized as the Texas State Guard Outstanding Non-commissioned Officer for 2018 and as the Army Component’s Outstanding Non-commissioned Officer for 2018 and receive the Texas Outstanding Service Medal and the “Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for Service Excellence. It is through the support and leadership of those around me that my achievements are possible. It is a great honor to be recognized in this way. I am honored to serve Texas and I appreciate the opportunity given me by the Texas State Guard,” stated Staff Sgt. Illich.
Illich joined the Texas State Guard in 2012. He serves as the 8th Regiment Public Affairs Officer, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 8th Regiment Honor Guard, a trainer for Texas State Guard shelter management, WEBEOC, and the Emergency Tracking Network mission skills, a Texas State Guard lead evaluator and instructor for the Ground Search and Rescue training and certification program of the National Association for Search and Rescue, a member of the Texas State Guard Band and a band recruiter in the Houston area. He previously served as the non-commissioned officer for communications and information technology, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment and a Unit Public Affairs Representative, providing superior support to recruiting and social media. During Hurricane Harvey in 2017 he was a member of the Texas Military Department Public Affairs pool and was deployed in the disaster zone to cover the story.
Illich is an Honor Graduate of the Texas State Guard Advanced Non-Commissioned Course and has earned the Basic Military Emergency Management Specialist Badge from the State Guard Association of the United States.
Illich volunteers as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders to honor veterans at funerals and as a member of “Cos-Play for Kids,” where costumed superheroes visit children in Houston area hospitals and serves as the as the master of ceremonies for a Houston and Galveston literacy program. He is a Tai Chi Teacher and Massage Therapist.
Sgt. Miranda Leal was recognized as the Texas State Guard Outstanding Junior Enlisted of the Year for 2018 and received Texas State Guard Jonathan Clutts Award for Selfless Service for 2018, an award named for Texas State Guard Petty Officer 2 Jonathan Clutts for his selfless service during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. She was also recognized as the Texas State Guard Army Component’s Outstanding Junior Enlisted of Year 2018 and received the “Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for Service Excellence.”
“I am honored to be recognized as the Texas State Guard Outstanding Junior Enlisted of the Year and receive the Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for the Outstanding Junior Enlisted of the Year in the Army Component. I am very honored to receive the first Jonathan Clutts award and hope to live up to his example of selfless service. I would like to thank those who believed in me and shaped me into the soldier that I am today. It is a great privilege to serve with such a great group of men and women who share a passion for giving back to their community and serving the Great State of Texas," stated Leal.
Leal joined the Texas State Guard in 2015. She serves as a squad leader and assistant Platoon Sergeant for G Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Regiment, an Emergency Tracking Network trainer, and a member of the Texas State Guard Band. She is certified in American Red Cross First Aid and Shelter Management, WEBEOC, and the Emergency Tracking Network operations.
She has completed the Texas State Guard Professional Leadership Development Course and Federal Emergency Management Agency courses.
Leal is a senior at Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, majoring in Exercise and Sports Science and Pre-Rehabilitation Science. She volunteers at Hays Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, San Marcos, Texas, and Guadalupe Regional Medical Center in Sequin, Texas.
“These two Texas State Guard members represent the best of the enlisted in the guard. Staff Sgt. Illich has demonstrated the best qualities, skills, knowledge and service of a non-commissioned officer and exemplifies the meaning of volunteerism, selfless service, and giving back to his state and community. His superiors and subordinates recognize his unmatched depth of doctrinal knowledge and the ability to relay that knowledge to others. Sgt. Miranda Leal exemplifies the highest attributes of a junior enlisted member. She has assumed leadership positions and duties and performed at a level beyond what is required of her rank and is dedicated to encouraging her fellow members to exceed in their professional growth and development and to sharpen their skills and knowledge necessary to perform their duties,” stated Command Sgt. Maj. Barton Williams, Army Component, Texas State Guard.