OSHKOSH, Wis. — Wisconsin’s adjutant general addressed legionnaires at the American Legion’s 100th annual state convention last Friday, his fourth consecutive year speaking at the convention. This year’s convention was held at the Oshkosh Convention Center.
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar began by highlighting the importance of partnerships, ranging from local government to private sector, and even to international partnerships when it comes to the defense of our country.
Dunbar informed the audience of nearly 1,000 legionnaires that last December, the 115th Fighter Wing was one of two Air National Guard units selected to receive the F-35A Lighting II fighter jets in early 2023.
Dunbar also discussed a charter between the Department of Military Affairs and Wisconsin electrical utilities signed a couple months before the Dark Sky exercise took place in May. The public-private partnership was designed to strengthen and secure the state’s critical electrical infrastructure.
Dunbar, the commander of the Wisconsin National Guard, updated the attendees on missions Wisconsin’s Soldiers and Airmen have faced over the past year, highlighting the Guard’s successes while facing adversity.
As the primary combat reserve of the United States Air Force and Army, Dunbar highlighted the quick turnaround by the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment as they deployed to the Middle East last summer with short notice, and the 115th Fighter Wing’s deployment to the Republic of Korea last fall.
Earlier this month, 350 Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery said goodbye to family and friends as they embarked on a deployment to the Middle East. Dunbar showed the audience a photo of a father and his daughter at the sendoff. The little girl in the photo was holding a G.I. Josh Dog, an American Legion initiative to help comfort children while their parents are deployed.
“If you ever wonder if these things matter, I assure you they matter,” Dunbar said. “Those young boys and girls who are saying goodbye to their fathers or mothers for a deployment, that dog is a connection, and they really appreciate what you do.”The National Guard is also the first military responder in the homeland, Dunbar said. Last September, the entire 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team was mobilized to support Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. In Wisconsin, Soldiers responded to flooding last summer in Monroe County and Burlington. The Wisconsin National Guard is also currently assisting with the southwest border mission.
Lastly, Dunbar highlighted the history and the legacy of the Wisconsin National Guard, discussing the centennial of the 32nd Division as they continue the legacy as the 32nd Brigade, and the Air Force’s and the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 70th anniversary.
Dunbar concluded his remarks by showing his appreciation for the American Legion and thanking legionnaires for all that they do.
“What you do, I am convinced, is making our country better,” Dunbar said. “I just want to assure you that your National Guard is taking our role seriously and doing our part to make sure that we’re living up to those standards and responding to the call of the Constitution of the United States.”