MADISON, Wis. – Retired Brig. Gen. Gerald C. Olesen was inducted into the Wisconsin Air National Guard Hall of Fame during a Sept. 6 ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters.
Brig. Gen. Gary Ebben, Wisconsin’s assistant adjutant general for Air, presented Olesen with the award, along with praise for achievements throughout his 41-year military career.
“I got to witness first hand his passion and energy for the Air National Guard,” Ebben said.
Olesen enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1967. Four years later he transferred to the Wisconsin Air National Guard and was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1978. Olesen was promoted to brigadier general on Oct. 14, 2006. He retired in 2008 after serving as the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s top officer.
Retired Maj. Gen. Al Wilkening, former Wisconsin adjutant general, was given the floor following Ebben’s remarks to share how Olesen’s career affected the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
“The partnership we enjoyed was nothing short of spectacular,” Wilkening said. “I can’t tell you how happy I was to have this man on my team. He made this National Guard what it is today.”
Olesen’s superior leadership, devotion to Airmen who served under his command and his dedication to the 115th Fighter Wing and Joint Force Headquarters left a profound impact on the legacy of excellence for those units.
Olesen is the 60th inductee to the Wisconsin Air National Guard Hall of Fame, which was established in 1982 to honor the special contributions officers and enlisted members make to the overall success of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Each recipient must have the highest caliber of dedication, bring great credit to the United States and the Wisconsin Air National Guard, and contribute to influential programs that significantly improve the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
“This achievement shows his commitment that goes above and beyond our normal exceptional Airmen,” Ebben said.
Olesen concluded the ceremony with many thanks to those who have helped and mentored him along the way, and those who have received the award before him.
“I want to thank so many enlisted and officers for making me look good,” Olesen said. “I want to share this induction with them because without them I wouldn’t be here.”
He also had advice for younger military members.
“Do it your way,” Olesen said. “What we did worked for us in our time. If it works for you, go ahead and do it.”