Golden earns star
By Michelle Owens
Army Flier Staff Writer
As a young cadet at the U.S. Military Academy more than 30 years ago, Walter M. Golden Jr. never expected to don a star on his Army uniform.

After serving Fort Rucker for the past three years, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Deputy Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Walter M. Golden Jr. was presented with his first star during an Honor Eagle ceremony July 2 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

"Achieving rank was never one of my goals. I aspired to be a commander. I got a taste of that when I was a platoon leader as a second lieutenant and I really liked that sense of camaraderie and fellowship and the ability to forge and build a team to accomplish a mission. I aspired to be able to do that at different levels," Golden said.

Golden considered retiring after relinquishing command of 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at Katterbach, Germany, but his wife, Jo Ann, persuaded him to stay, which is why he considers his Family to be one of the biggest contributors to his success.

"I thought the highest sense of accomplishment you can ever have as a brigade commander is to deploy troops to combat for a year in theater and be able to bring all those Soldiers back home again. I told Jo Ann this is probably as good as it gets, but she told me to stick around and see what happens," he said.

Jo Ann Golden and Maj. Gen. Virgil L. Packett II, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general, carefully pinned a single star on the new general's Class A jacket in front of Family, friends and community members.

"This is a time to recognize (a Soldier) who started out as an infantryman, who's commanded at every level, is a combat-decorated veteran and has been an inspiration to what goes on here and throughout the Aviation Center of Excellence," Packett said. "It's a great day to be able to introduce to you, Brig. Gen. Walter Golden."

Golden said achieving the rank of brigadier general gives him a sense of pride and relief and the promotion ceremony was a "momentous occasion."

"It's a little overwhelming just because of the number of friends and Family who have come such long distances to share this special day. My best friend since the fourth grade, Jim Johnson, flew from Colorado," Golden said. "That level of care, concern and love really does humble (me). Seven of my West Point classmates came in from all over the United States, including two of my three roommates from my first semester of my freshman year. I've been very fortunate to develop relationships ... with (people) who have touched my life and made it special."
During the ceremony, Golden was also presented with his general officer belt and the Legion of Merit medal.

Golden is not only a professional Soldier, but a confidant, a good friend and a great general officer, Packett said.
Upon his departure from Fort Rucker, Golden will carry his title of deputy commanding general and all he has learned while serving here to his next duty station - the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.

"(The rank of) general officer, to me, is an opportunity the Army has given me to continue to serve Soldiers and Families, continue to serve my country and make a difference," he said. "Three years at Fort Rucker with the responsibilities that were entrusted to me ... allowed me a lot of latitude to learn, grow and make a difference at Fort Rucker and interact with the local communities."

Golden said he hopes to take the same principles he learned here to Korea and continue building community relationships.

"At Fort Rucker, the reception we receive from the local communities and the relationships we've built with community leaders has really made this time special. I've learned some things that I can take to a (future) assignment and try to forge the same types of relationships," he said.

His next assignment will also allow him to work inside a division with a tactical mission.
"I've enjoyed my time at Fort Rucker, but I've trained my whole life to train and lead Soldiers when called upon by our nation to go into conflict and Korea allows me to be on the pointy end of that spear again," Golden said.