Alumnus Greg Illich’s Outstanding Service to Texans
From the volunteer units who fought for the Texas Independence to the Travis Guards who provided home protection for citizens in the newly formed Texas Republic, the men and women who serve in the Texas State Guard have a long and proud history of serving the citizens of Texas.
That includes TXSG Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich ’86, who was recently recognized by the Texas State Guard for his outstanding service.
Illich Receives Top NCO Honor from Texas State Guard
Illich, who in 2018 was part of the 8th Regiment, Army Component, was recognized as the 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, or the United States who has performed service in a superior and clearly outstanding manner.
He 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.
At the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Barton Williams of the Army Component, TXSG, noted that 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 the state and community.
Who is the Texas State Guard?
The Texas State Guard, along with the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard, is one of the three military branches comprising the Texas Military Department. As part of its civil affairs mission, the TXSG provides support to Texas during state emergencies and disasters such as hurricanes and flooding. The State Guard operates under the command of the Adjutant General of Texas and the Governor as Commander-in-Chief of all state military forces. The men and women of the State Guard come from many backgrounds in civilian life, prior military service, and non-prior military service. Joining the TXSG is an ongoing commitment to public service.
Illich Makes a Connection
Illich met Mississippi guard members when his family survived Hurricane Camille in 1969 in Biloxi when he was 5-years-old. “We had nothing and they made sure I got vaccines, a toy and clothing.” In 2010, he went up to a Texas State Guard member and asked him about his work. Recognizing the need for specialized training to provide more assistance during emergencies, Illich joined the TXSG in 2012.
Illich’s Many Hats as a Guardsman
He served as the 8th Regiment Public Affairs Officer, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 8th Regiment Honor guard, a trainer for TXSG shelter management, WEBEOC, and the Emergency Tracking Network mission skills, a lead evaluator and instructor for the Ground Search and Rescue training and certificate program of the National Association for Search and Rescue, and a member of the TXSG band. Now Illich serves in the 2nd Brigade as a Public Affairs Officer.
He recently was certified with TXSG as a classroom instructor. He teaches people how to run a shelter -prepare foods, place cots and more – to take care of Texans during an emergency situation.
Volunteerism is Illich’s Superpower
Illich who earned a degree in history from UST said he was impacted by the Office of Volunteer Opportunities on campus and “that is what planted the seed for me. I learned about that volunteer spirit and to give back to the community to make it a better place. I learned that we are the caregivers, the guardians and to care for other people,” he said.
Today, he is still active as a volunteer. He visits children in the hospital costumed as Captain America giving hope by asking them about their superpowers. He is also a lector at the Corpus Christi Catholic Church.
A Liberal Arts Education Shaped Illich’s Future Career Paths
Illich moved into teaching when he left UST, but his liberal arts education prepared him for a multi-faceted career that includes fraud investigator, massage therapist and tai chi instructor. “I moved out of the classroom, but in many ways I use the same skill sets that I learned at UST and as a teacher, which is to problem solve and find a path for improvement with each individual I see,” Illich said.
Illich credits his critical thinking skills, learned at UST, as his tool to success. “I am able to see patterns and my history degree made me a good researcher. And people wonder what you can do with a history degree,” he chuckles.
Illich married his college sweetheart, Maria Elizabeth King ‘88, M.Ed. ‘00, who works as a teacher at St. Frances de Sales Catholic School. The Illiches have one daughter, Katherine, who resides in Denver.