The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

After 4 Decades Of Service-Crooks Retires

-by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class

Charles Newton, Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery

A lot has changed since Staff Sgt. Norris Crooks, 58, of Oquawka Ill., was 19 years old, swearing to defend his country against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

He has seen his Commander in Chief change six times. With his official retirement Jan. 19, he missed seeing it change again to President Barack Obama.

Crooks served 14 months in Vietnam during 1970 and 1971 with the U.S. Army and 12 months in Iraq during 2004 and 2005 with the Illinois Army National Guard's Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery, based in Galesburg.

Crooks had mixed emotions about retirement, but said it's the dedicated Soldiers that he will miss most. "I enjoy what we do and we have really good people. I am definitely going to miss all of the guys."

Crooks was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his selfless service to his country because of his service in the U.S. Army and Illinois Army National Guard from March 1970 to January 2009.

"Staff Sgt. Crooks is a true patriot and defender of freedom. From Vietnam to Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has defended and put his life in harms way to protect this country and its values," said Capt. Lanny Finn, Commander of Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery.

"His wisdom and experience will be missed and his unselfish service and sacrifices should be a model for all to follow."

From left to right-Cpt. Lanny Finn, Commander, Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery; Staff Sgt. Norris Crooks, and 1st Sgt. Joseph Bratcher. Members of the Galesburg-based unit celebrate Crooks' time in service during a retirement party on Jan. 10 in Galesburg. Crooks officially retired on Jan. 19 after nearly four decades of service to his country.