Target Team Members Share Their Stories as the 2016 Medal of Honor Convention Kicks Off

October 5, 2016 - Article reads in
Target team members with Medal of Honor recipients at the welcome ceremony

This week, thousands of military members, veterans and their friends and families from across the U.S. gathered in the Twin Cities in Minnesota for a very special event. The 2016 Medal of Honor Convention takes place Oct. 4-8—and as a proud sponsor, the Target team is excited to help host the festivities in our hometown. The annual gathering, held in a different city each year, celebrates Medal of Honor recipients, America’s highest military award for valor in combat.

Being part of this convention has significant meaning for our team. We have a longtime commitment to supporting veterans, active military members and their families—including thousands of our own team members—and we’ve pledged to hire more military veterans and their spouses as a member of the Veteran Jobs Mission and the White House’s Joining Forces initiative. At our headquarters, our Military Business Council (MBC)—one of six diversity and inclusion business councils at Target—provides resources and support to team members with a connection to our nation's military and helps us identify opportunities to better serve job candidates, team members and guests with military connections.

Check out some highlights from the week's events:

As this week’s big events kick off, meet a few of our military team members taking part in the convention.

John Willoughby, Senior Director, Partnerships and Negotiations

Military ties: “I was in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) in college, then in active duty in the Army for 4.5 years—I served as a combat engineer in Germany, the U.S., Africa and Somalia.” John’s family has a long military tradition—his brother is an Army officer too; his father was a Vietnam veteran and his grandfather served during World War II. “So growing up, that was a big part of my heritage—giving back through service to community and country means a lot to us.” As a 14-year Target team member, John leads a team of negotiators, tech product specialists and business support. “I feel the same sense of pride and mission in my work at Target that I did in service.”

On Target’s support: John’s been a member of Target’s MBC for years, and recently took on a leadership role as the group’s sponsor. “I’m impressed with how our business council makes connections and provides support for our team and the community. Last month, we took part in a job fair at Target Field that connected job-seeking veterans with more than 100 Minnesota companies looking to hire them. I love being part of a company that sets service members up for success, and helps veterans showcase their skills and find the right career opportunities.”

On the Medal of Honor Convention: “This is the first time the Twin Cities have hosted the convention, and I’m proud Target is a sponsor. I took part in the welcome dinner, and I’ll be at the special events at Fort Snelling too. I’ve enjoyed meeting some of the Medal of Honor recipients and their families already, and was struck by how genuine and humble they are. It was great just to chat with them. They come from all walks of life and parts of the country, but are bonded as good friends. It was inspiring to hear how they’re committed to giving back to the nation and leaving a legacy through their Medal of Honor Character Development Program in schools.

Carla and husband Joe in costume, taking part in a performance at the White House

Carla Tappainer, Senior Tax Specialist

Military ties: “I joined the Army when I was 17 years old, as a musician in the Army Band. I played trumpet and bugle for 20 years, including when I was stationed in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks in the 25th Infantry Division Band, and the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Presidential Honor Guard in Washington D.C. I was one of three women in a battalion of 1,400 men. I traveled all over the world and got to participate in six presidential inaugurations—I’ve met all the presidents since Jimmy Carter. I also had the honor of playing Taps at over 5,000 military funerals.”

On service after retirement: “I met my husband, Joe, in the Army—he was also in the Old Guard. We’ve been married for over 30 years and have two beautiful daughters, Emily and Jessica. I’ve been retired for over 15 years now and I’m very active in the American Legion. I’m currently the commander of American Legion Post 1776 in Apple Valley, Minn., and we work to help veterans in our local community.”

On Target’s support: “I love how the Target team reaches out to military members, veterans and their families to help with whatever they need during deployment overseas, and the tons of volunteer work we do in the community. I’m proud to be part of a corporation that cares about veterans.”

Looking forward to: Attending the meet-and-greet event at Mill City Museum. “I’m excited for the chance to speak with the Medal of Honor recipients and their families and hear their stories.”

Cody in uniform, and at Target Field during the flag ceremony

Cody Johnson, Senior Assets Protection Tech

Military ties: Currently a carpentry and masonry Sergeant for the 851st Vertical Engineer Company out of Camp Ripley Minnesota, Cody’s served with the Army National Guard for nearly 6 years. “I grew up in a family of service members—my dad, uncle and cousin were in the Army, and my grandpa was in the Navy. So it was in my blood to want to serve.”

On Target’s support: As a member of the MBC, Cody takes part in volunteer projects, networking events and helps other team members find their way to the group. “This summer, I volunteered at the MBC booth at the Minnesota State Fair and met lots of great people—including some high-ranking officers—who stopped by to say how much they appreciated what Target does for the community and our veterans. I love that we’re doing something special and that our service members have a home at here Target.”

Proudest moment: Presenting the giant American flag during the National Anthem at a recent Vikings-Packers football pregame show. “As we opened the flag up and stretched it across the field, 67,000 people stood cheering, then the fireworks went off and the fly-over took place, and words could not describe how I felt. Everything I believe in, everything I stood up for and the reasons I enlisted—all culminated in one moment, and I’ll remember it forever.” 

Nick and his colleagues on duty during deployment

Nick Pearce, Regional Real Estate Director

Military ties: Nick served as an active duty Army officer for four years after college. “I was in the 82nd Airborne Division, so a lot of our field training involved parachuting. There was nothing quite like the chaos of more than 500 paratroopers in the air at once in the middle of the night! There were officers and soldiers from all over the country. Different races, socio-economic backgrounds, education levels—you name it, and we all had to come together to accomplish a mission.”

On Target’s support: I’m an MBC co-chair, and I'm proud that we've built a place for the military and veteran community at Target to come together, network and support each other. It’s been great to share stories and to be embraced by the broader business council community. The opportunity to learn from the experiences of others has been amazing.”

On the Medal of Honor Convention: “I attended the welcome reception for attendees at Target’s headquarters Monday night. It was an honor to meet some of the Medal of Honor recipients and hear what they had to say about leadership and sacrifice.”

Blake and his wife at a military event

Blake Trullinger, Senior Property Management Program Owner

Military ties: Blake graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2006. “My class was the first to enter the Academy after the horrific events on Sept. 11, 2001. I was mid-application when I found myself watching the events unfold, and on that day, I knew my decision to seek appointment was absolutely the right one.” Blake was honorably discharged in October 2007 after a medical condition caused him to be non-commissionable. He worked with West Point to seek civilian employment after graduation and joined the Target team a few years later. “I’ve watched my classmates and lifelong friends honorably protect our nation during times of conflict, and have the utmost respect for their service and sacrifices.”  

Proudest moment: A three-year MBC member, Blake loves taking part in Target’s community volunteer projects that help veterans, through partnerships with organizations like The Mission Continues and Operation Gratitude. “We’ve done many events that help veterans get back on their feet in times of need. It’s been very rewarding to meet and work with them, and to see the Target team come together to give back to someone who protected our freedoms.”

On the Medal of Honor Convention: “It’s been great to see Target play a role in this event. Attendees of this convention are American heroes—they’ve gone through the toughest of times, and their shared stories will inspire anyone willing to listen.”

Want to know more about this year’s Medal of Honor Convention? Check out the full schedule of events, and follow the hashtag #HonorOurHeroesMN2016. See more of the ways Target supports the military, veterans and their families.

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