MADISON, WI (WSAU) by Vaughn R. Larson, Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs
The Wisconsin Army National Guard's assistant adjutant general for readiness and training was formally promoted to the rank of brigadier general during a Thursday (Feb. 28) ceremony in the Senate Chamber of the state capitol.
Moments after Brig. Gen. Mark Michie's children Brandon and Alex fastened his one-star shoulder boards to his uniform, Gov. Scott Walker administered the oath of office before a gathering of family, friends and senior Wisconsin National Guard colleagues.
Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, noted that Michie's career as a traditional National Guard Soldier - part-time as opposed to full-time - is an example of the Wisconsin National Guard's diversity.
"We don't worry about if you're full-time with us or not, we worry about your contribution in uniform, and we select the best officers to rise to this rank," Dunbar said.
"In our culture we value exceptional teams," Dunbar continued. "Here in Wisconsin we've got the Green Bay Packers, with the greatest tradition of winning NFL championships and a number of Super Bowl rings. We talk sometimes about the quarterback Bart Starr, Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers and who is the best, and what you find over time is sooner or later someone has to retire and someone comes up to take their spot. What an honor it is to take a leading role in a great team. It's one thing to play in the NFL - it's something even better to play with the Green Bay Packers ... To be an officer in the Army National Guard is great, but to be a general officer in the Army National Guard with our traditions, with our Soldiers who've done so much, really is exceptional."
Walker agreed, calling the Wisconsin National Guard "not only one of the finest National Guards in the country but part of one of the finest entities in the world.
"Today we're adding to the ranks someone who has already been an accomplished leader and now, in a moment, will be a brigadier general, taking that next leadership step forward," Walker continued. "He's adding to his title - he's been a Hodag, a Pointer, a builder and a Soldier, and today he affirms yet again his leadership as a Citizen Soldier and as a leader for our state and for our country."
Walker was referring to Michie's time with Wisconsin Army National Guard engineer units in the Rhinelander area - famous for the mythical beast called a "Hodag" - as well as his time in the Reserve Officer Training Course at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Michie also is the owner and president of Lakeland Overhead Door Corp. in Minocqua, Wis. He took a two-year leave from running his business to work as domestic operations director for the Wisconsin National Guard Joint Staff.
Michie, a resident of Harshaw, Wis., thanked Walker and Dunbar for their trust and confidence, and said he looked forward to this new opportunity. In his new role, he will assist Dunbar and Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, assistant adjutant general for Army, in providing an Army National Guard capable of meeting state and federal missions. He will be responsible for the training and readiness of all Wisconsin Army National Guard units, and will serve as needed as a liaison between the Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, state and local officials and associations.
"I hope to continue to give back to an organization that has given me so much," Michie said. He explained how, as a young captain, he began working for a Korean War veteran who spent a year as a prisoner of war. Michie ended up buying the business from his employer, but also gained an appreciation for the sacrifice others have made.
"I have to serve for guys like him and for all those that went before me that have given us the freedom that we have today in the greatest country in the world," Michie said. "I look at all that I've been given, the opportunities I've been given - to own a business, to put this uniform on and serve - it's incredible that a guy from a less-than-middle-income family could go to college on his own, serve his country, own his own business ... only in America.
"I'm proud to serve with such fine, dedicated officers and Soldiers that we have here in the Wisconsin National Guard," Michie continued. "It's unequaled anywhere in this country. To be able to serve with you at this level is truly an honor, and it's a great challenge. I hope I can live up to the challenge and make a difference."