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Minooka man proves he’s a true leader

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 3:20 p.m. CDT
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(Photo provided)
Wes Anderson of Minooka was recognized as the longest-serving AGR Commissioned Officer in the Illinois Army National Guard. He retired April 30, 2013.

Wesley R. Anderson is a man who believes in leading by example. His career, in fact, has proven that philosophy.

Anderson was recognized as the longest-serving AGR Commissioned Officer in the Illinois Army National Guard. He was scheduled to complete his final tour April 30, 2013.

After originally enlisting in the Illinois Army National Guard at Rock Falls, Ill., Anderson’s duties have taken him to tours in Afghanistan and with relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Soon, however, the Minooka man plans to be enjoying more time at home, spending time with his family. Considering that, Anderson was deserving a proper salute.

Q:  Tell us your background, where you are from, what year you moved to Minooka, and about your family.  Tell us your education and military training background.

A: I was born in Paxton, Ill., and grew up in the Manlius, Ill., area attending grade and high school there. I have been married to my wife June for 33 years. We have six children and two grandsons.

My highest civilian education: MBA from University of Illinois at Chicago. My highest military education; Command & General Staff College.

Q: What an honor to be acknowledged as the longest-serving AGR Commissioned Officer in the Illinois Army National Guard. What do you attribute your professional longevity?

A: I attribute my longevity to my sense of duty and blue collar/lunch bucket approach.  Fulfilling obligations is very important to me.

Military service as a commissioned officer is a move up or be moved out career. I paced myself and did not chase promotions, but rather trusted the organization to take care of me as long as I was performing at or above expectations.

Q: Tell us what position you retired in, describe your duties, where you were stationed at the time, and how you achieved that position?

A: Prior to starting my transition, my final assignment was as the chief of staff for the Illinois Army National Guard. 

The Adjutant General’s principal executive assistant and advisor on all matters pertaining to the Illinois Army National Guard (ILARNG). I managed and directed the administration, coordination, planning, development, execution and supervision of all ILARNG programs.

As a senior federal full-time employee, I was responsible for the management of over 1,400 active duty and civilian employees and the allocation of all federal fiscal and personnel resources within the organization.

Q: We understand that you were on the ice at a Blackhawk game in March. Tell us about that experience.

A: The Chicago Blackhawks in conjunction with the USO feature one current and one former service member during the National Anthem at each home game at the United Center.  A major who once worked for me nominated me to the USO in recognition of my service prior to my retirement. The National Anthem at a Blackhawks game is unlike that of any other venue. It was a sensational experience.

Q: As you started out as an Army trainee, how did you transition to the Illinois National Guard? In other words, how do these positions/organizations relate?

A: It was not a transition. I originally enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard at Rock Falls, Ill. I then attended Infantry OSUT (One Station Unit Training) at Fort Benning, Ga., as a private prior to enrolling in ROTC at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Ill. After completing ROTC, I attended Armor (Cavalry) Officer Basic Course (OBC) at Fort Knox, Ky.  While attending OBC, I had an opportunity to enter into a tour under the provisions of the Active Guard/Reserve (AGR) program.  The AGR program provides active duty resources that serve tours within a specific state’s national guard or the United States Army Reserve.  I started my initial AGR tour with the Illinois Army National Guard on May 15, 1985 as a second lieutenant 12 days after graduating from OBC and my final tour ends April 30, 2013.
Q: Tell us your most memorable post or posts. 

A:  Without hesitation, my most memorable assignment was serving as the Base Operations Commander for Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. It demanded personal growth: emotionally, mentally and professionally. I left having a better appreciation for the basics that most take for granted (i.e. food and water, individual rights and freedom). I also left knowing that my efforts had made difference in the lives of the Afghan people and the service members that I supported.

Q: What has been the most difficult duty?

A: Relief efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Q: What has being in a leadership role taught you? Changed you? When you talk to younger persons about being a leader, what message do you share?

A: It may be somewhat cliché; however, I am a believer in the axiom of leading by example and treating others with respect whether they be employee, peer or superior internal to the organization or external customers and stakeholders.  By doing so, others will be more respecting of the individual who holds the position of authority and not just their title.

I try to be more compassionate, inclusive and tolerant of others and their ideas.

A leader must model their expectations of others in their own day to day actions (i.e. performance, professionalism, punctuality).

Q: Would you advocate the military as a career for a young person, Why?

A: Yes, it has provided me with countless experiences and opportunities. The people I have had the honor to meet. The cultures I have experienced. The places I have seen. They must understanding going in that these things come with much personal sacrifice.

Q: What are your retirement plans?

A: Take a knee and enjoy time at home with my family prior to pursuing a new career. I have a desire to replicate my military success in the civilian sector. I am confident that I will when given an opportunity.

———

Q: What is your favorite Hobby?

A: Anything outdoors, like heritage sports — canoeing, camping, fishing and hunting.

Q: Is there anywhere that you have not been that you want to travel to?

A: Sweden. My grandparents came from Sweden to the U.S. through Ellis Island in New York Harbor. They are both buried in Sweden.

Q: What is your favorite meal?

A: Steak and loaded baked potato with green salad (ranch dressing) and sweet corn or mixed vegetables.

———

Who: Wesley R. Anderson

Age: 50

Job: In transition from military career, seeking new career opportunities

Family:  Wife, June; son, David; daughter, Peyton; daughter, Abigail of Minooka; son, Wesley and Hayley Anderson and grandson, Calvin of Channahon; daughter, Jennifer Anderson and grandson, Liam of Morris; and daughter, Jessica Anderson of Shorewood.

Highlights: Recognized as the longest serving AGR Commissioned Officer in the Illinois Army National Guard

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