WARSAW, Poland – September 29, 2011. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s top military officer, Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart, the Adjutant General of Illinois, received the Polish Army Medal during an official visit to Poland last week. U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Thomas Lamont accompanied Enyart to the ceremony, which included a military parade, a performance by a Polish Army band, and a “dress and review” march in which 100 Polish soldiers saluted and honored the officer.
“As Commander-in-Chief of the Illinois National Guard, I know the quality of the leaders within its ranks,” Governor Quinn said. “We have the best National Guard and Adjutant General in the country. This medal shows the positive impact our National Guard has not only here in Illinois and in the United States, but across the world.”
In receiving the Gold grade of the medal, Enyart joins a short list of American generals to receive the award including former Army Chief of Staff Gen. (ret.) George W. Casey, former Central Command Commander and current CIA Director Army Gen. (ret.) David Petraeus, African Command Commander Army Gen. Carter Ham, and Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the Commander of International Security Assistance Force- Afghanistan and United States Forces – Afghanistan.
The medal was signed by Polish Minister of National Defense Obrony Narodowej and was approved by the Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.
“I am both humbled and honored to receive this medal from Poland,” Enyart said. “This honor belongs to the Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who have worked side-by-side with the Polish for close to 20 years.”
Enyart commands the 13,000-member Illinois National Guard, which has maintained a State Partnership Program with Poland since 1993. Aside from military-to-military and military-to-civilian exchanges and co-training, the Illinois National Guard also co-deploys troops with Polish forces, first to Iraq and now to Afghanistan. The Illinois National Guard’s Bilateral Embedded Support Team (BEST) has approximately 20 servicemembers serving with a Polish brigade in Afghanistan today. Poland has served as a staunch ally of the United States in Europe and throughout the world.
Following a 2010 airplane crash in Russia that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and many of Poland’s top civilian and military leaders, Enyart rushed to Poland to offer his personal condolences to the Polish people. When a volcano in Iceland prevented further travel from the United States to Poland, Enyart represented the U.S. Secretary of Defense and was the senior military representative of the U.S. government to attend the Polish officials’ funerals.