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National Guard Magazine |
April 2023

Gifts of Thanks

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Bob Nicholson may have been the proudest person in the room at a reception for major donors to the National Guard Educational Foundation on March 18 at the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The event was a long time coming for the Tennessee Army Guard fixed-wing pilot, warrant officer director on the NGAUS board and head of the association’s Committee on Warrant Officer Issues.

Eleven years ago, the committee decided to raise the $10,000 required to become a member of the Legion de Lafayette, the NGEF’s biggest benefactors. Nicholson was elected to the committee in 2015 and was determined to see the effort through.

“The NGEF does so much in telling the National Guard story and providing college scholarships to the children of fallen Guardsmen,” he said. “It’s such a worthy cause. It’s also a great way to give back for the lifetime of opportunities the Guard has given us.”

Thanks to committee members over the years, others in the warrant officer community and help from some NGAUS corporate partners, Nicholson and the committee reached their goal this year. He said donations from a recent Region 3 Warrant Officer Senior Advisory Council put the committee over the top.

Now, the committee is recognized as a major NGEF donor. And it is listed on the LdL wall outside the National Guard Memorial’s Sonny Montgomery Room, where the NGAUS board meets.

“The first thing I’ll do the next time I’m in the building is go to that wall and find our committee,” Nicholson said.

He so believes in the NGEF that he and wife, Holly, dug into their own pockets to become a legion member as a couple. “The Guard has literally been a way of life for us, and it has blessed us with tremendous opportunities and lifelong friendships that we will be forever thankful for,” they said.

The Warrant Officer Committee and the Nicholsons were among 14 donors recognized at the ceremony. They contributed a combined $140,000 to the NGEF, which preserves and shares all 387 years of the Guard’s story.

The National Guard Memorial Museum is among the foundation’s programs. It boasts 5,600 square feet of artifacts, images and interactive exhibits is the only museum dedicated to the Guard from all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

Other couples recognized were retired Col. Eric and retired Maj. Lori Ahlness; Priya Ghosh Ahola and David Ahola; and retired Brig. Gen. Timothy Kennedy and his wife, Susan.

The Aholas and Kennedys were making their first LdL-level gift; the Ahlnesses added to a previous major contribution. Priya Ghosh Ahola is the former deputy director of the association’s legislative department.

“For four years, I was proud to represent the soldiers and airmen in the National Guard,” she said. “I will carry on my support and admiration for Guardsmen throughout my career. My husband and I are honored to participate in the Legion de Lafayette program.”

The foundation also honored Monty Nielsen of Benefit Briefing Solutions, a company that works with the NGAUS Insurance Trust. It was Nielsen’s first major LdL donation.

Major corporate contributions recognized included five donors making additions to previous gifts and two donors making a first contribution.

BAE Systems, Bridgestone Americas, Northrop Grumman, Shepard Exposition Services and USAA were repeat donors. TacMed Solutions, a manufacturer of medical supplies and training aids based in Anderson, South Carolina, and New York Life, the NGAUS Insurance Trust’s new provider of insurance products, were first-time donors.

“TacMed is dedicated to improving the survivability of the National Guard by better preparing them for activities on the battlefield, natural disaster responses or other emergency-crisis situations,” said MarkOwens, the senior vice president of sales for TacMed Simulation.

“New York Life has a long history of supporting our country’s military and its veterans and it is our honor to support NGAUS and its mission of promoting the highest levels of readiness, modernization and quality of life for National Guard families,” said Dan O’Brien, New York Life’s vice president of sales and account services.

The NGAUS contribution was made in the name of retired Brig Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the association’s president, and his wife, Susan.

Those honored received a replica of an 1832 medal the New York militia presented to Marquis de Lafayette, after whom the LdL program is named. A French aristocrat who fought in both the American and French revolutions, he played a major role in the development of the state militias.

Lafayette commanded the famous Garde Nationale de Paris in France. During his visit to New York in 1824, the militia unit that provided his honor guard adopted the designation National Guard out of respect to his unit in France. The name stuck, growing in popularity until early in the 20th century when it became the official name of the organization of militias nationwide.

For more information on the NGEF, visit www.ngef.org.


Top Row (from left): Priya Ghosh-Ahola, Former Deputy Director, NGAUS Legislative Department; David Ahola; Col. Reginald Sanders (Ret.), National Account Manager, Retail & Military Sales, Bridgestone Americas; Brig. Gen. Keith Klemmer (Ret.), Business Development Director, BAE Systems

Third Row (from left): Michael Webb, Account Executive, Shepard Exposition Services; Brandon White, Sector Vice President & General Manager, Navigation, Targeting and Survivability, Northrop Grumman; Lt. Col. Mark Owens (Ret.), Senior Vice President of Sales, TacMed Solutions; Monty Nielsen, Benefit Briefing Solutions; Col. Eric Ahlness (Ret.), Minnesota Army National Guard

Second Row (from left): Brig. Gen. Timothy Kennedy (Ret.), Minnesota Army National Guard; Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson (Ret.), NGAUS & NGEF President; Patrick Smith, Director of Sales, TacMed Solutions; Chief Warrant Officer 5 Bob Nicholson, Warrant Officer Director, NGAUS Board of Directors; Chief Warrant Officer 4 Lance Jenkins, NGAUS Warrant Officer Committee; Chief Master Sgt. Dick Smith (Ret.), Military Affairs Relationship Director (Guard Services), USAA

Front Row (from left): Susan Kennedy; Dan O’Brien, Vice President of Sales and Account Services, New York Life; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Annette Johnson, NGAUS Warrant Officer Committee; Maj. Gen. Janson “Durr” Boyles, NGAUS & NGEF Chairman of the Board; Holly Nicholson; Chief Warrant Officer 4 Elizabeth Hoepfner, NGAUS Warrant Officer Committee; Maj. Lori Ahlness (Ret.), Minnesota Army National Guard