La. National Guard sergeant major retires after 29 years

Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Stiefvater, the Louisiana National Guard senior enlisted advisor, presents a retirement award to Sgt. Maj. John Bonin during an official retirement ceremony at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, Sept. 7, 2019. Bonin served in the Louisiana National Guard for 29 years. | Photo Source: U.S. Army National Guard / Spc. Cody W. Kellum
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (LANG) - Sgt. Maj. John Bonin retired from the Louisiana National Guard in an official ceremony at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, Sept. 7.

His family, friends and peers flooded the grounds in front of Fleming Hall to commemorate the culmination of his 29 years of service.

“As some parting advice, I ask you to stay as long as you can,” said Bonin. “Louisiana has some of the best soldiers, noncommissioned officers and leadership that I’ve seen anywhere.”

Bonin enlisted in the LANG in 1990 as an infantryman. Throughout his career, he served in several key leadership positions, including operations sergeant major, assistant operations and plans noncommissioned officer, administrative specialist and plans NCO for the 2nd Armored Division Rear Tactical Operation Center and, most recently as the senior enlisted advisor of operations, training and planning for the LANG. He mobilized with the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2010.

“He has had a tremendous impact on the organization. It is our honor to recognize one of the best of the best,” said Brig. Gen. D. Keith Waddell, assistant adjutant general of the LANG. “He was the [256th] brigade sergeant major for nine years. As most of you know, the pace there never slows down and to stay in that position with that tempo for that long is incredible. His impact across all ranks could be felt each and every day”

Bonin earned the rank of sergeant major in 2007 and served as the senior enlisted advisor for the 165th Combat Service Support Battalion. He later served as the operations command sergeant major for the 256th IBCT.

Bonin is a graduate of Jennings High School in Jennings and holds a Bachelor of Science from Excelsior College in New York. His military education includes Primary Leadership Development Course, Basic Noncommissioned Officer's Course, Advanced Noncommissioned Officer's Course and Bradley Fighting Vehicle Master Gunner Course. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

Bonin’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, Reserve Components Achievement Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Bronze Hour Glass and “M” Device with Numeral 2, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 5, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Louisiana Cross of Merit, Combat Infantry Badge, Louisiana Commendation Medal, Louisiana War Cross with 2 Fleurs-de-lis, Louisiana General Excellence Medal with 6 Fleurs-de-lis and the Louisiana Longevity Ribbon with 5 Fleurs-de-lis.

Bonin and his wife, Donna, reside in New Orleans. He is a father to seven children: Eden, Jude, Graceanne, Isabella, Adrian, Dominic and Grant. He also has one grandchild, Elio.

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