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Destined to Serve - the Creation of the AGCRA Citizen Soldier Chapter

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By LTC Michael D. Riley, Chief, Data Management Branch, Army National Guard Headquarters, Arlington, VA

It was a cold and rainy Friday evening in October of 1997 as PVT Michael Riley pulled into a busy parking lot filled with Soldiers moving at what seemed like a hundred miles an hour. The parking lot was dimly lit by a yellow streetlight which made it bright enough to see the hustle and bustle, but dark enough to create some confusion. The sounds of diesel engines starting, Soldiers talking while packing their gear and metal containers opening filled the air. It would be my first drill weekend as a Personnel Specialist (75B) assigned to the prestigious 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment located in Orlando, Florida. It would be this moment that would define who I would become and as strange as it sounds, I felt called to muster.

I was blessed to join this organization founded by strategic leaders who believed in pushing everyone to be the best human beings personally and professionally. They believed in working hard, knowing your craft, and taking care of your family and each other. Our drills were often overloaded with requirements that resulted in long nights and hot days that forged cohesive teams through decisive actions. After each drill, AT Teams, Squads and Platoons would stay after drill to decompress and inevitably talk about what went well and what could be done better. In this forum of trust, humility and honesty, great ideas were brought to life. I reported to my first line leader who would help unlock my passion of helping others through human resource activities. It is no surprise that I wanted to become one of those strategic leaders.

Was this call to serve rooted genetically in my blood? It would take me the better part of 25 years of service to answer that question. My parents grew up in a small town outside of Boston called Weymouth, Massachusetts. We knew that our past was likely traceable to the Plymouth Colony, but what I discovered was a connection to the first Commander of the Plymouth Colony, CPT Myles Standish.

CPT Standish was hired as a military advisor for the Plymouth Colony and traveled with the Pilgrims onboard the Mayflower. He would play a leading role in the administration and defense of the colony from its foundation in 1620. In 1621, he was elected as the first Commander of the Militia, and he would continue to be re-elected to that position for the remainder of his life. Although his last military action that he personally led was in 1635, he continued to actively serve was Commander through 1640 appointing LT William Holmes to train the militia as his immediate subordinate. The Massachusetts Bay Colonel is credited with the First Muster in 1636 and although Myles Standish was part of the Plymouth Colonel, it isn’t unrealistic that his military influence reached this neighboring colony.

I am a Lifelong Adjutant General (AG) professional spanning over 26 years as both a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer and Field Grade Officer in the Army National Guard. We recently stood up the AGCRA’s newest Chapter aimed to virtually connect Army National Guard AG professionals across the 54 States, Territories and the District of Columbia. The Citizen Soldier Chapter will be a hybrid chapter that has both a virtual component and in-person component at the Army National Guard Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The Chapter will have regionally aligned a Vice President to help connect all (Soldiers, Civilians, and Retirees) of our Human Resources professionals across the enterprise.

Lineage to the Plymouth Colony for LTC Michael Riley:

Myles Standish - 10th Great-Grandfather
Alexander Standish
Mercy Standish
Ruth Samson
Alithea Fullerton
James Joyce
Ruth Joyce
Benjamin Stockbridge
Isaiah Stockbridge
Adelbert Stockbridge
John Stockbridge
Nancy Stockbridge
Michael Riley

John Howland, Sr. - 10th Great Grandfather
Lydia Howland
Jabez Brown
Hezekiah Brown
Asa Brown
Asa Brown
Nancy Brown
Levi Bailey III
George Bailey
Ralph Bailey
Marjorie Bailey
Nancy Stockbridge
Michael Riley

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Bob Ortiz

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