By Staff Sgt. Debralee BestFebruary 13, 2015
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - U.S. Army Reserve Col. Donna Williams was promoted to brigadier general in a ceremony Feb. 6 in Montgomery, Alabama.
Williams, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, is the deputy commanding general of support for the 412th Theater Engineer Command.
Maj. Gen. Tracy A. Thompson, commanding general, 412th TEC, was the host of the ceremony.
"No second lieutenant, unless you're MacArthur, I guess, sees themselves as a general officer when they are commissioned," he said. "I'm certain no parent sees a general officer in that young, 21 or 22 year old who pins on that gold bar. All the years that occur, it's hard to describe what got them there. Only about 10 percent or less of lieutenant colonels will make full colonel and then only 1 to 2 percent of those will make general."
While it seems the odds may have been stacked against her, Williams' mother, Shirley Williams, removed the colonel rank from her daughter's uniform and replaced it with the general officer star. Fernando Williams, Brig. Gen. William's nephew, presented her with a patrol cap with her new rank.
Following Thompson swearing her in with the oath of office, Williams received her belt, placed around her waist by her mentor, Col. (Ret.) Cornelius Easter.
The history of the general officers belt dates back to World War II with an order by the Army Chief of Staff for the belt to be issued to all general officers. The thick, black belt, with an 18 carat gold plated buckle with the imprint of an eagle was first produced in 1944.
Thompson then presented Williams with her own general officers flag.
"The flag you see passed today has been physically touched by the hands of those who have touched the life of Brigadier Gen. Williams and in doing so have contributed to today's event," said the event narrator.
To finish out the ceremony, Williams received an award from her previous assignment as the garrison commander of Fort Hunter Liggett, California. Her award was the Legion of Merit.
Williams felt she had not made the journey to a general officer alone.
"This ceremony is not symbolic of my individual accomplishments because I give all the glory to God, the greatest soldier who ever lived and continues to be the wind beneath my wings," she said. "I thank God every day for what he has done for me. Equally important, God has placed people in my life to help me achieve this accomplishment. I have been truly blessed."
Williams went on to thank many people individually, including Thompson.
"Maj. Gen. Thompson, sir, thank you for allowing me to be a member of the 412th Theater Engineer Command. Thank you for your leadership, your guidance and your support. Thank you for holding this ceremony today," said Williams. "I look forward to working under your command, under your leadership and completing strategic missions you have assigned under my charge."
In closing, Williams looked to the future and the work ahead.
"I look forward to serving with all of you as we continue to take care of Soldiers, civilians and families while sustaining our operational readiness and relevance to our Army's nation," she said. "It is great to be working with the engineer community again."