Annville, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) today inducted three new members into its prestigious Hall of Fame, recognizing their exceptional service to the department, the Pennsylvania National Guard and Pennsylvania’s veterans.
Honored today were Maj. Gen. (ret.) Walter F. Pudlowski Jr.; Command Sgt. Maj. (ret.) Nicholas “Chip” Gilliland; and Helen Sajer.
“Induction into the DMVA Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by this agency and is reserved for those who have demonstrated the highest commitment to our commonwealth and country,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the DMVA.
“General Pudlowski and Command Sergeant Major Gilliland selflessly served in uniform for most of their lives and then continued to support the DMVA since that time in many other ways. Mrs. Sajer served in her own right, first as a dedicated and supportive military spouse, but also as one of Pennsylvania’s most-active advocates for veterans, active service members and their families.”
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Walter F. Pudlowski Jr. (Grantville, Dauphin County)
Walter Pudlowski entered the U.S. Army as an enlisted soldier in October 1965 and was later commissioned through the Army Officer Candidate School program. He served in the United States, Panama and was a platoon leader in Vietnam.
After leaving active service in 1972, Pudlowski served in the U.S. Army Reserve and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He served in leadership assignments in the 1st and 2nd Battalions 109th Infantry; Headquarters 55th Brigade; and as the 28th Divisions G3, chief of staff and deputy commanding general for Maneuver. From October 1998 to October 2003, he commanded the 28th Infantry Division, preparing troops for various combat and peacekeeping missions throughout the world.
In his final assignment before retirement in November 2005, Pudlowski was the special assistant to the director of the Army National Guard and was called upon to serve as the acting director of the Army National Guard; and as the National Guard Bureau J3 operations officer during Hurricane Katrina.
He is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and the U.S. Army War College.
Command Sgt. Maj. (ret.) Nicholas “Chip” Gilliland (Palmyra, Lebanon County)
Chip Gilliland enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1986, completing basic training at Ft. Dix, N.J. and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Eustis, VA. He was then assigned to B Company, 159th Aviation, 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY. In 1988, he was reassigned to B Co, 7/101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He left active duty and served in the Individual Ready Reserve. In 1991 he was called back to active duty to support Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
After briefly returning to the Individual Ready Reserve, Gilliland joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1994, and was assigned to Company G, 104th Aviation. He served in Company G until May of 1996 when he was hired as a CH-47 instructor at the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site.
In November 2009, Gilliland was selected as the state command sergeant major, Pennsylvania National Guard and served in that position until May 2012. In May of 2012, he resigned as the state command sergeant major to serve as the senior non-commissioned officer, B Company, 2-104th Aviation, Task Force Nomad, for a 17-month train up and deployment to Afghanistan. Upon returning from his deployment, Gilliland was assigned to the State Aviation Office as the senior aviation sergeant major until his retirement in February 2014.
He currently works as chief, Division of Reintegration and Outreach within the Office of Veterans Affairs at DMVA.
Helen Sajer (Camp Hill, Cumberland County)
Helen Sajer is the president and founder of Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc., an all- volunteer, statewide Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation formed to assist wounded and disabled veterans of the commonwealth to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Sajer and her husband, the late Maj. Gen. Gerald T. Sajer, established the nation’s first Family Support Program for the Pennsylvania National Guard, which created networks to inform and support the families of National Guard soldiers and airmen as the frequency and length of their deployments to support the war efforts in Iraq increased.
She also conceived, established and operated an annual youth camp at Fort Indiantown Gap for the children of National Guard soldiers, serving for six years as the camp nurse. This program served as a model for many other states. She also undertook major organizing and fundraising activities for Sergeant’s Grove and the Keystone Lodge at Fort Indiantown Gap, a meeting and recreation site dedicated as a living memorial to those who have served in the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Sajer graduated from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing and is a retired registered nurse.
The DMVA Hall of Fame, established in 1998, recognizes unique and exemplary contributions and significant achievements by an individual in service and support of DMVA. Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor conferred upon an individual by the department.
Complete biographies and more information about the DMVA Hall of Fame can be found at DMVA Hall of Fame Bios. Photos of the three inductees can be found by going to Flickr-DMVA Hall of Fame Photos.
For more information about the DMVA, visit us online at www.dmva.pa.gov or follow us at www.facebook.com/padmva or www.twitter.com/padmva.