By Samantha HillMay 3, 2018
FORT LEE, Va. - An Army logistician admired for his leadership during a major reorganization earned the 2018 LTG Arthur J. Gregg Sustainment Leadership Award.
Retired Gen. Johnnie E. Wilson received the award as Army Sustainment Week brought the logistics enterprise together to discuss issues, insights and the future of the sustainment enterprise.
The Army's senior logistician and Army Materiel Command Commander Gen. Gus Perna presented the honor May 3.
"The Army Materiel Command and the entire Army are still benefitting from the decisions General Wilson made and the leadership provided," Perna said. "Like this award's namesake, General Wilson led by example."
The sustainment award was established in 2016, when Gregg, a decorated Army logistician, received the inaugural award. Gregg distinguished himself as a supply sergeant whose career traversed the socially turbulent 1950s and 1960s, the Vietnam War, and culminated as the Army's deputy chief of staff for logistics.
Wilson served as Army Materiel Command's 13th commanding general, and its first black commander, from 1996 to 1999, when the organization faced broad changes and, at the time, the largest reorganization in its history. A Base Realignment and Closure was announced in June 1995, gained congressional approval in November 1995 and was fully completed in July 1997. During that timeframe and under budget curtailments, Wilson reduced the size of the command's workforce without involuntary separations.
The restructuring established the Aviation and Missile Command, the Soldier and Biological Chemical Command, and moved 3,000 people from St. Louis to Huntsville, Alabama.
"This award recognizes leadership in operating efficiency, readiness levels and fiscal responsibility," Perna said. "General Johnnie Wilson is the embodiment of such criteria."
Wilson's military career began in 1961 when he enlisted in the Army. He reached the rank of staff sergeant before attending Officer Candidate School and commissioned into the Ordnance Corps in 1967.
During the Vietnam War, Wilson served with a supply and services company with the 173rd Airborne Brigade where he learned firsthand the power of logistics.
"As soon as there is a conflict or it's time to go to war, it has to be logistics," Wilson said in a 2012 video highlighting his service. "Logistics is the ammunition, transportation, repair parts, the clothing, the food. Everything you need to execute and win the war happens to be under the umbrella of logistics."
Wilson served in logistics positions throughout the country, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Fort Lewis, Washington. He served as the Deputy Commanding General of the 21st Theater Area Army Command in Germany, the Army's largest and most diverse logistics unit. He also commanded the Army's first Main Support Battalion. Wilson served as the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics before he became the Army Materiel Command's commanding general in 1996.
Wilson retired in 1999. He was inducted into the Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame in 1999 and the AMC Hall of Fame in 2017.