Civilian aides sworn in
First Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek (center), swears in retired Rear Adm. Sam Kupresin (left) and former University of Illinois professor Michael Ayers during an investiture ceremony on Rock Island Arsenal Friday. Bednarek swore in Kupresin and Ayers as civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army.

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Natives of Rock Island and Springfield, Ill., were sworn into their new roles as civilian aides to the Secretary of the Army during an investiture ceremony here Friday. Civilian aides serve as liaisons between the Secretary of the Army and local civic groups and military communities.

Retired Rear Admiral Sam Kupresin of Rock Island and former University of Illinois professor Dr. Michael Ayers of Springfield, Ill., were sworn in by the First Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek. Bednarek talked about what the aides will do in their new duties.

"One of the most important roles of a civilian aide is to provide leadership and advocacy in their states and communities," Bednarek said. "They help inform community leaders and appointed and elected officials on the best ways to assist surviving family members of Soldiers killed in combat and the severely wounded Soldiers that are returning to their homes. They assist by ensuring that we as a grateful nation honor their sacrifice and take care of them and their families."

They also play a key role in recruitment, Bednarek added.

"In both World Wars, civilian aides played an integral role in finding outstanding leaders for the Army. They still do that today, with recommendations of Soldiers to Officer Candidate School and of high school students to military academies," Bednarek said.

In addition, Benarek continued, "Civilian aides assist in telling the Army story. They tell the civilian community about the Army's missions and objectives. They provide feedback to the Secretary and local commanders regarding the public's perception of the Army. CASAs are selected on the basis of leadership in the community and their interest in the mission of national defense."

Bednarek touched on what Kupresin and Ayers will bring to the Army.

"The fact that Mike and Sam have been selected speaks volumes about their character, values, loyalty and dedication to our nation, its Soldiers and their families," Bednarek said. "Dr. Ayers brings a host of outstanding qualities to this appointment. Since 2009, he has served as chair of the Illinois Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). He has served both the military and civilian communities on a number of advisory committees and boards and currently works as executive vice president and chief executive officer for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

"Retired Rear Adm. Kupresin honorably served our nation in the Navy for 32 years, Sam has demonstrated his understanding of military operations and weapons systems while serving in numerous senior level command positions."

Kurpresin noted the civilian aide position will be a boon for Illinois. "Having this direct representation will be important to our state and community," he said. "I would like to thank Lt. Gen. Bednarek, our Chamber of Commerce and our mayors for their very proactive and methodical work to get these billets stood up. I'm deeply honored and humbled and I will do my utmost to fulfill my responsibilities."

Ayers expressed similar sentiments.

"I am blessed to have the opportunity to do this job and I will do my best to ensure leaders have an understanding of the Army's needs," Ayers said. "I would like to thank the staff of First Army for being patient with me through all the phone calls and e-mails. I was always asking 'What is this?' and 'How does this work?' and Lt. Gen. Bednarek, you were outstanding in your assistance. I pledge to represent the Office of the Secretary of the Army thorough the Army values: Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage."

As chair of the Illinois ESGR, Ayers works to ensure a smooth transition for Reserve Component Soldiers from work to Active Duty, and back again. The committee also helps unemployed Reserve Component members find work.

For six years, Ayers served as a member of the advisory board for the Illinois National Guard's Lincoln's Challenge Academy. He also served on the advisory committee to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

In 2010, he received the National Guard Association of Illinois' distinguished service award, and was also honored, as one of 10 recipients the National Guard Association of the United States' Patrick Henry Award. In 2011, he was recognized for community service as a Rotary International Paul Harris fellow by the Rotary Club of Springfield, Ill.

Kupresin was a career Naval aviator who served in many senior level command positions and attended numerous leadership and advanced management schools. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy and also attended Air Command and Staff College and the Naval War College. He serves as vice president of business development for Mandus Group Ltd., whose primary focus is providing military products and services to the U.S. and allied countries.

Page last updated Mon March 11th, 2013 at 09:44