Illinois National Guard Welcomes New Leader

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CHATHAM – The Illinois National Guard announces its new leader – handpicked by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Standing tall at the podium – General Richard J. Hayes Junior – accepts his appointment with pride.  He is the new commander of the Illinois National Guard.

"I’m humbled. I recognize that I have a great responsibility on my shoulders, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing the great work of my predecessors and really taking Illinois from strong to stronger,” Hayes says.

"Commander" is the highest rank in the Illinois National Guard.  Hayes is now in charge of nearly 13,000 men and women in uniform.

Hayes explains, "You’re responsible for everything.  So everything that does or does not happen under your command is your responsibility.”

The ceremony took place Sunday afternoon at Glenwood High School in Chatham. Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti officiated the ceremony. Former Commander Daniel M. Krumrei relinquished his position with the passing of colors. 

"He is precisely the right man at the right time to assist Governor Rauner in his agenda, and to assist the Illinois National Guard in moving forward,” Krumrei says.

The new commander says he's already identified some unique obstacles he'll face.

"We’re in some challenging times federally, and the crises around the world are not getting easier, the actual speed in which they are occurring,” Hayes says.

But he says there's nothing he can't accomplish with his support system.

"My wife and my kids allowed me to really get to this, because without their support, especially my wife's, I wouldn't be here.”

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