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    A Teacher's Story: Sgt. 1st Class Elker Retires After 26 Years of Service

    A Teacher's Story: Sgt. 1st Class Elker Retires After 26 Years of Service

    Photo By Maj. Wayne Clyne | Elker Family at retirement ceremony: Spc. Tyler Elker (20), husband Greg Elker, son...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Wayne Clyne 

    Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office

    After 26 years of honorable service, Sgt. 1st Class Amy Elker retired from the Oregon National Guard in September 2023, closing out a remarkable military career.

    Throughout her time in the Oregon National Guard, Elker served admirably in numerous public affairs positions since 1993 to inform diverse audiences about the National Guard. Her varied roles included the 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, the 142nd Wing, and as the lead Public Affairs Noncommissioned Officer for the Oregon Guard Joint Force Headquarters.

    In these critical leadership duties, Elker provided invaluable support for Oregon Army National Guard, Air National Guard and broader Oregon Military Department events, setting the standard for overall PA operations across 24 of her 26 total years of service.

    Her prolific work highlighted the capabilities and emergency response efforts of the National Guard to audiences worldwide through compelling photos, articles and videos published spanning for the Oregon National Guard internal publication "Oregon Sentinel" newsletter with a 14,000- to national news networks.

    Among the highlights of Elker's career were the overseas deployments where she volunteered beyond her duties, including Bosnia from 1998-1999 for Operation Joint Forge. In Bosnia, she took the responsibility from a commissioned officer, coordinating official visits to the Office of the Chief Public Affairs. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for her dedication to duty deployed in a dangerous area of operations.

    While serving in Bosnia, Elker had the harrowing experience of her base being targeted by Yugoslavia's Mikoyan model 29 (MiG-29) fighter jets on March 26, 1999, with two of the attacking jets shot down by F-15 pilot Col. Jeff Hwang. Elker later served in the Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Wing with Hwang, who interdicted the attack on Elker's base.

    Stateside, Elker documented Oregon emergency response efforts during disasters and supported impactful nonprofits through community relations.

    As a citizen-soldier, she balanced her military service with an accomplished civilian career in journalism and teaching.
    At her September 2023 retirement party, Elker reflected on what she valued most about her career.

    "It's all been about relationships for me...just getting to know what everybody does and how it all comes together to see the big picture," she said.

    She also commented on serving as a woman: "I was really blessed that when I did join in 1991, I had some male leaders who were not only very open to women serving but also very encouraging and provided me with incredible opportunities that I believed were beyond my abilities at the time. Their mentorship and belief allowed me to rise to the challenge. Nowadays, there are a lot more opportunities for women, and the culture as a whole has become more accepting."

    Elker began her career in 1991 in the Army Reserve as an admin specialist. She joined the 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in 1993 and served in various Oregon Guard units over her 26 years of service.

    Elker retired in September 2023 after exemplary service and outstanding contributions to military public affairs, telling the Oregon National Guard's story to local and national audiences.

    Now retired Sgt. 1st Class Elker works at Western Christian School teaching English, journalism and public speaking. She says with her additional weekend, she is using it to focus on her family. Elker has two sons carrying on the family tradition of National Guard service. Spc. Joshua Elker is a military occupation specialty (MOS) 68W combat medic with 141 Brigade Support Battalion, Oregon Army Guard. Spc. Tyler Elker is currently in the process of transferring to the Oregon Guard from the Washington Guard and is a MOS 35F intelligence analyst.

    Lastly, Elker commented on why she stayed in: "It is by far the people. Those I have served with, trained with, deployed with, been mentored by, and those I have met and worked with from other countries and other military organizations. It is a bittersweet moment. I know I will miss it, but I am thankful for all the amazing opportunities, friendships, travels and memories."



    Date Taken: 11.18.2023
    Date Posted: 11.18.2023 18:20
    Story ID: 458144
    Location: SALEM, OR, US

    Web Views: 204
    Downloads: 0