Winston P. Wilson

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Winston P. Wilson
Wilson wp.jpg
Major General Winston P. Wilson
Nickname(s) Wimpy
Born (1911-11-11)November 11, 1911
Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Died December 31, 1996(1996-12-31) (aged 85)
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service 1929-1971
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Unit Arkansas National Guard
National Guard Bureau
Commands held 154th Observation Squadron
16th Photographic Squadron
154th Fighter Squadron
Director, Air National Guard
Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force)
Legion of Merit

Winston Peabody Wilson (November 11, 1911 – December 31, 1996) was a United States Air Force Major General who served as Chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Early life[edit]

Winston Peabody Wilson was born in Arkadelphia, Arkansas on November 11, 1911.[1] Wilson acquired the nickname "Wimpy", a play on words using his name, when a coach hollered for "Win P. Wilson" to take the field.[2] He enlisted in the Arkansas National Guard in 1929 and was an aircraft mechanic in the 154th Observation Squadron.[3]

He graduated from Hendrix College in 1934.[4] In 1936 he became qualified as a pilot after receiving instruction from Earl T. Ricks, and he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1940, the same year he received his commercial pilot's license.[5]

World War II[edit]

During World War II Wilson initially served with the 154th Squadron at Eglin Field, flying anti-submarine patrols.[6]

In September 1942, he was assigned to the staff at Headquarters, United States Army Air Forces in Washington, D.C. He was rated as a service pilot in May 1943, and appointed Chief of the Tactical Reconnaissance Branch in July, 1943, receiving promotion to Major.[7]

In 1944 he became commander of the 16th Photographic Squadron, responsible for photographic mapping and charting missions in South America, Alaska and the continental United States.[8]

In 1945 he was assigned to the Pacific as liaison officer to Far East Air Forces, and he was subsequently assigned as assistant air photo officer at Headquarters, Far East Air Forces in the Philippines, receiving promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. In 1946 he was appointed Chief of the Reconnaissance Unit in the Operations and Training staff section (A-3), of Pacific Air Command, operating in both Tokyo and Manila.[9]

Post World War II[edit]

Wilson, now the commander of the Arkansas National Guard's reorganized 154th Fighter Squadron, played a role in the creation of the new United States Air Force, and was an advocate for two separate Reserve components, the United States Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard. Among the changes he instituted in an effort to improve readiness were a modified drill schedule, moving from four Wednesday nights per month to two Wednesday nights and two full Sundays, the precursor to the current one full weekend per month schedule.[10]

National Guard Bureau[edit]

In 1950 Ricks was appointed Director of the Air National Guard, and selected Wilson as his deputy. Wilson, now a Colonel, was responsible for the training, readiness, equipping and deployment of Air National Guard units during the Korean War. He served in this role until Ricks' death, and was the acting Director during Ricks' final illness.[11]

Before Ricks died he recommended Wilson as his replacement. Wilson was appointed Director of the Air National Guard in 1954, and promoted to Brigadier General. In 1955 he was appointed Deputy Chief of the National Guard Bureau and promoted to Major General. He carried out this assignent while also serving as Director of the Air National Guard.[12]

From June to July, 1959 he served as acting Chief of the National Guard Bureau after the retirement of Edgar C. Erickson and before the appointment of Donald W. McGowan.[13]

During his tenure as Air Guard Director he oversaw the organization's diversification from a fighter-based force to one of fighters, bombers, observation, and transport units, as well as a modernization of its planes and facilities.[14]

Chief of the National Guard Bureau[edit]

In 1963 Wilson was appointed Chief of the National Guard Bureau, the first Air Force officer to be officially named to the position. (Ricks had served as acting Director for four months.)[15][16] Long an advocate for integrating National Guard and Reserve units into operations with active duty ones, rather than using them as a strategic reserve, Wilson's view was validated during the Vietnam War, with Air Guard fighter squadrons serving successfully in Vietnam, especially following the Pueblo Incident and Tet Offensive, when called on to deploy with little or no advance notice.[17][18]

Wilson also continued efforts to integrate the National Guard, including the appointment of its first African-American general officer.[19][20]

In addition to its military preparations, Wilson also oversaw enhanced training and equipping efforts so that the National Guard could respond to civil disturbances, which happened with increasing frequency as the result of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s.[21]

As NGB Chief during the Vietnam War, Wilson also made news when he advocated that Guard members take part in counter-demonstrations in response to opponents of the war, asking them to drive with their car headlights on during the day, fly the U.S. flag more frequently, and leave their porch lights on at night.[22]

Wilson flew in Vietnam on observing and fact finding missions, and received the Vietnam Service Medal. He was appointed to a second term in 1967, and served until his 1971 retirement.[23]

Retirement and death[edit]

In retirement Wilson resided in Forrest City, Arkansas. He suffered a stroke and died at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee on December 31, 1996.[24] He was buried at South Town Cemetery in Forrest City.[25]

Legacy[edit]

The National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas hosts the annual Winston P. Wilson Rifle and Pistol Championship, a nationwide contest where teams and individuals from participating states compete for high scores in small arms target shooting.[26]

Major awards and decorations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ St. Joseph News-Press, General Wilson to be Main Speaker at Aerospace Event, September 24, 1961
  2. ^ Wolfgang Saxon, New York Times, Gen. Winston P. Wilson, 85, National Guard Leader, Dies, January 3, 1997
  3. ^ Lakeland Ledger, Luncheon Here to Open Armed Forces Activities, May 14, 1959
  4. ^ U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Hearings, Department of Defense Appropriations for 1958, Biographical sketch, Winston P. Wilson, 1957, page 1138
  5. ^ Charles J. Gross, From Jennies to Jets: Major General Winston P. Wilson And The Air National Guard, Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame, 2012
  6. ^ U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Hearing Record, Biographical sketch, Winston P. Wilson, 1966
  7. ^ U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Hearing, Defense Apropriations for 1968, Biographical sketch, Winston P. Wilson, 1967, page 77
  8. ^ U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Hearings Before and Special Reports Made by Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives on Subjects Affecting the Naval and Military Establishments, Part 2, Biographical sketch, Winston P. Wilson, 1971, page 3843
  9. ^ United States House Armed Services Committee, Hearing Record, Military Construction Authorization, Fiscal Year 1972, Biographical sketch, Winston P. Wilson, 1971, page 5356
  10. ^ Charles J. Gross, From Jennies to Jets: Major General Winston P. Wilson And The Air National Guard, Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame, 2012
  11. ^ Charles J. Gross, From Jennies to Jets: Major General Winston P. Wilson And The Air National Guard, Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame, 2012
  12. ^ Charles Joseph Gross, Prelude to the Total Force: Air National Guard, 1943-1969, 1984, page 199
  13. ^ National Guard Bureau, Annual Report, 1983, page 51
  14. ^ New York Times, Air Guard Gets Supersonic Jet, January 25, 1958
  15. ^ Hanson W. Baldwin, Air Officer Seen as Head of Guard; Wilson Would Be First of Service Arm in Post, May 5, 1963
  16. ^ New York Times, The Proceedings In Washington, May 28, 1963
  17. ^ Los Angeles Times, Reserve Force to Be Kept at High Peak, October 26, 1966
  18. ^ New York Times, July is Target for New Reserve 'Select Force' of 150,000, December 27, 1965
  19. ^ Associated Press, Meriden Journal, Test Program Spurs Negroes to Join Guard, December 15,1967
  20. ^ Fred Hoffman, Associated Press, Tuscaloosa News, Guard Gets First Black General, May 7, 1971
  21. ^ Associated Press, Riot Control Weapons Stockpiled by Army, February 15, 1968
  22. ^ Associated Press, Youngstown Vindicator, General Asks National Guard to Join In: Counter-Protest Gets Boost, November 4, 1969
  23. ^ Boston Globe, National Guard Bureau Appoints New Chief, September 5, 1971
  24. ^ Wolfgang Saxon, New York Times, Gen. Winston P. Wilson, 85, National Guard Leader, Dies, January 3, 1997
  25. ^ Washington Times, Gen. Winston P. Wilson, 85, led National Guard, January 6, 1997
  26. ^ Curtis McElroy, Doug Woodruff, Top Guard Shooters Battle It Out In the Natural State, 2006

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Maj Gen Donald W. McGowan
Chief of the National Guard Bureau
1963 - 1971
Succeeded by
Maj Gen Francis Greenlief
Preceded by
Edgar C. Erickson
Chief of the National Guard Bureau (Acting)
1959 - 1959
Succeeded by
Donald W. McGowan
Preceded by
Maj. Gen. Earl T. Ricks
Director of the United States Air National Guard
1954 - 1962
Succeeded by
Maj. Gen. I. G. Brown