Special ops officer named assistant adjutant general in Ky. Air Guard
By Master Sgt. Vicky Spesard, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 20, 2019
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Brig. Gen. Jeffrey L. Wilkinson became the commonwealth’s new assistant adjutant general for Air during a ceremony at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base here Aug. 11.
Wilkinson, who served a lengthy career in special operations, accepted the unit’s headquarters guidon from the outgoing ATAG-Air, Brig. Gen. Warren H. Hurst, before an audience of 500 Airmen, friends and family.
After accepting the colors, Wilkinson expressed his gratitude and vision to unit members.
“To each Airman among us, from our brand-new apprentices to our most seasoned craftsman, every role is valuable and every contribution is vital,” said Wilkinson, who most recently served as vice commander of the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing. “Our oneness perpetuates an ever-improving version of the Kentucky National Guard that our nation demands of us and that’s needed now more than ever.
“We stand ready, as we always have, for the citizens of the commonwealth of Kentucky and our nation. So it's my distinct honor and privilege to serve you as the assistant adjutant general. Together, we are the Kentucky Air National Guard, and we will honor those who came before us to carry forward as we face unforeseen challenges and answer the call.”
As assistant adjutant general for Air, Wilkinson will serve as commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard and principle advisor to the adjutant general on all matters pertaining to the unit, including strategic plans, programs, policies and air operations.
Hurst also addressed the unit before relinquishing his role and receiving a final salute, praising its members and saying words of encouragement for the incoming general.
“I want to thank all of you for what you do out here each and every day,” he said. “One of my goals during this tenure was to ensure greater opportunities for more Airmen. The hardest challenge is to provide for the development for our Airmen.
“It's a goal that Brig. Gen. Wilkinson and I have talked about and will continue. So in this transition, I want to welcome him to the team. The work is never done, but I hope I left the foundation and the framework to provide you with strong organizations to work from and to take it to the next level.”
In addition to his most recent role as vice commander at the 123rd, Wilkinson held a variety of leadership positions throughout the organization, including wing commander. Prior to that, he was commander of the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron for more than five years, leading the unit through numerous combat deployments.
He has spent most of his career in Air Force special operations as a combat control officer and combat rescue officer. That career spanned active duty, traditional Air National Guard and Active Guard Reserve tours. After leaving active duty and before joining the Kentucky Air Guard full time in 2001, Wilkinson worked as a quality engineer for General Electric Appliances in Louisville.
A Bronze Star-decorated combat veteran, Wilkinson participated in Operations Uphold Democracy, Joint Endeavor, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom; Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed national exercises; and multiple natural disaster-response operations and state exercises.
A 23-year veteran of military service, Wilkinson is an Air War College graduate by correspondence. His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Gallant Unit Citation. He received his commission in January 1990 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y. Wilkinson was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in February.