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Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, speaks to Legionnaires during the American Legion of Wisconsin’s 101st convention July 19 in Middleton, Wis. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Capt. Joe Trovato

MIDDLETON, Wis. — Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, spoke to members of the American Legion of Wisconsin about the importance of the National Guard and its no-fail dual-mission during their state convention July 19.

Likewise, Dunbar highlighted the important role the American Legion plays in serving state and nation when he spoke at the organization’s 101st convention in Middleton.

“From my perspective, at 100 years old you are the most relevant you have ever been for our nation,” Dunbar said. “You do so much for our communities, our families, our veterans.”

Dunbar highlighted deployments and returns of various Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard units over the past calendar year, fulfilling their role as the nation’s primary combat reserve. But the Wisconsin National Guard also has an important responsibility as Wisconsin’s first military responder — a responsibility that impacted his presentation that morning, as a transformer explosion in downtown Madison put thousands of residents out of power on one of the hottest days of the year. Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency, which made the Wisconsin National Guard available to provide support to local authorities if needed — and placed Dunbar in the position of overseeing the potential Guard response for assistance.

The adjutant general noted that the Wisconsin National Guard trains and builds relationships with emergency response units across the state.

“It’s incumbent on us to have great relationships so that if something happens, we’ve done more than just exchange business cards beforehand,” Dunbar explained.

The Wisconsin National Guard not only supported local flood response efforts last year, Dunbar said, but assisted with hurricane relief efforts down south.

Dunbar touched on the 100th anniversary of the return of the 32nd Division — made of Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard Soldiers — from Germany in World War I, and its connection with the founding of the American Legion after World War I concluded.

“How privileged we all are to serve this great country,” Dunbar observed. “When I think about the bond that we share, those of us who have worn the uniform for our nation, that bond is extraordinary.”