By Cherish GilmoreFebruary 12, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- One of the Army Materiel Command's former commanders, known for leading significant change in reshaping the command for the future, was honored as a 2017 Hall of Fame inductee during a formal ceremony at headquarters, Feb. 6.
Army Materiel Command Commander Gen. Gus Perna hosted the ceremony and personally presented retired Gen. Johnnie Wilson with a plaque honoring his significant contributions to AMC and the Army. He joined five other retirees -- Maj. Gen. Joseph Arbuckle, G. Richard Price, John Dugan, Stanley Kronenberg and Lt. Gen. Emmett Paige Jr. -- to form the AMC Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
Wilson, an Ohio native, enlisted in the Army in 1961 and reached the rank of staff sergeant before attending Officer Candidate School. He commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps. His extensive command experience in the ordnance, maintenance and logistics fields led him to serving as the chief of staff of AMC and as the 13th commanding general of AMC.
According to his nomination, his tenure at AMC was marked by continual reshaping and reorganizing for the command due to the needs of the Army. He led the organization through Base Realignment and Closure Commission action closeouts, Quadrennial Defense Review directives, Defense Reform Initiative Directive and the assignment of new missions.
Two of those major changes were the establishment of the Aviation and Missile Command in 1997, which he personally supervised, and the establishment of the Soldier and Biological Chemical Command in 1998. The establishment of these commands impacted thousands of civilians in a move from St. Louis to Huntsville.
But Wilson never lost sight of the people who worked for him.
"Army Materiel Command, in my view, is really about people," he said.
Wilson shared how he worked one-on-one with the mayor at the time, Loretta Spencer, to resolve issues that concerned the St. Louis workforce.
Also significant, Wilson led the organization in the midst of a reduction in Army personnel. The Quadrennial Defense Review directives required AMC to downsize its civilians to 53,599 and military to 1,654 by the year 2000. He was able to reduce the size of the AMC workforce without resorting to involuntary separations.
"I've always said as a leader and a commander that if you can take care of your people, then they will certainly take care of the mission," Wilson said.
Missions also increased at AMC. Under his tenure, the Signal Organization and Mission and Alignment and the assumption of the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program contract transferred to AMC. The creation of the Logistics Modernization Program also transferred to AMC.
"The reason why we started LMP is because every time I would visit the materiel managers at one of the life cycle management commands, they would have three monitors in front of them working multiple systems trying to reach an end result," Wilson said.
LMP was AMC's solution to this problem. It is still being utilized and improved upon across AMC today.
"Every time I come back and see what you all are doing down here, it is my hope that some of that is because of what happened 22 years ago during my time -- especially the part that takes care of people," Wilson said.
During the ceremony, Wilson accepted the award, not on behalf of himself or even the rest of the Hall of Fame recipients, but on behalf of the people who served with him.
"I humbly accept this gift on behalf of the thousands of dedicated professionals who served within the command during my assignment -- all tremendous professionals just like all of you assembled here today," he said. "Those individuals during my time here as the chief of staff and again as the commanding general, fully understand, like you all do, that readiness is the key to ensure that our young people are properly equipped and have the materiel that they need."
In the spirit of readiness, Wilson left the audience with one additional remembrance.
"About 20 years ago, the staff had a picture of a 3-year-old boy with a helmet on, and at the top of the picture was a caption that stated, 'what are you doing for the Soldier of 2020?'" he said. "I hope I can see a similar photo on display the next time I visit."