OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Army National Guard or OKARNG welcomed a new general officer to its organization recently during a promotion ceremony held at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Brig. Gen. Louis Wilham, resident of Edmond was officially pinned to the rank of brigadier general, making him the newest general officer for the OKARNG.
“It’s a pretty daunting task,” Wilham said. “Many of my mentors and people I’ve looked up to my whole career have been promoted to the general officer ranks, and they have set extremely high standards for me to try to live up to. I’m truly honored and humbled to now be included in that group.”
Pinning on his star were his two daughters, Taylor and Shelby, who according to Wilham have only known a life of their father serving in the Oklahoma National Guard. Alongside them was Wilham’s wife Jody who beamed with pride while watching their daughters pin on her husband’s new rank. Without the support of his family, Wilham said, he never would have gotten to where he is today.
“I would never have been able to achieve even half of what I’ve done without the love and support of my family,” Wilham said. “My wife Jody and I have just celebrated our 30th anniversary, and she’s had to put up with a lot of absences over the years.”
Whether it was his deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008, his state-active duty mission in response to Hurricane Katrina, drill weekends or annual trainings, an unavoidable part of being in the military is the time spent away from loved ones; time that adds up through the years.
“It doesn’t seem like it at the time, but when you add up all the missed days, it turns out to be quite a lot,” Wilham said. “Through it all though, they’ve been very supportive of not only me, but more importantly, each other.”
The Senate Assembly Room was standing-room only, with leaders from the Oklahoma National Guard, Oklahoma legislatures, fellow soldiers and airmen, and adoring family and friends.
“This is a testament of you who you are as an officer,” said Maj. Gen. Robbie Asher, the adjutant general for Oklahoma, as he addressed the filled room. “This is a great day for our state, a great day for our nation, and a great day for the Wilham family.”
Wilham has spent nearly 30 years in the OKARNG. He enlisted in 1987 after being convinced to join by his father-in-law retired Master Sgt. James Roe, and then commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1989. Wilham began serving on active duty for the OKARNG in 1997, where he has served in a multitude of command and staff positions in the company, battalion and brigade-levels, including serving as brigade commander for the OKARNG’s 90th Troop Command.
Wilham’s current assignment is the assistant adjutant general for the OKARNG. He also serves as the executive director of the Oklahoma Military Department in Oklahoma City, the state agency responsible for the administration of the Oklahoma National Guard.
For Wilham, reaching a rank among general officers wasn’t one he necessarily thought he would achieve, but one he is grateful for and one that his family is proud of.
“Even without this promotion, I’ve had an extremely rewarding career and have been able to do many great things with the Oklahoma Army National Guard,” Wilham said. “My family is all very proud, but probably none more so than my mother-in-law, Becki. She and my father-in-law have been very supportive.”
When asked what advice he would give to Service Members just beginning their career, he suggested to build a team and rely on that team to accomplish the mission.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my career in being able to work with a great group of officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers, and we have made each other successful,” Wilham said. “‘Mission First, People Always’ is not just a cliché or motto; it truly is the way you need to operate. You must ensure everyone is mission-focused, but you have to care about the people working with you and their families.”
Wilham holds a bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement Administration from the University of Oklahoma, and a master’s degree in international relations from Troy University and strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.
His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Combat Action Badge and more.