SPRINGFIELD – The son of a Tuscola resident has assumed command of the Illinois National Guard.
Brig. Gen. William L. Enyart took over command of the Guard during a ceremony Saturday morning at the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.
Enyart is the son of William Enyart and the late Alta Enyart of Tuscola.
His father said he's quite proud of his son and thinks he'll do a good job leading the National Guard.
"He's just that way," William Enyart said. "He's just cut out to be the best he can be at anything."
Gov. Rod Blagojevich last month appointed Enyart as the 37th Adjutant General of Illinois, replacing the retiring Maj. Gen. Randal E. Thomas.
As the Adjutant General, Enyart will command more than 13,000 soldiers and airmen of the Illinois National Guard. He also serves as the governor's principal adviser on all military matters and functions as the director of the Department of Military Affairs.
"It's a tremendous joy and responsibility," Enyart said. "I think we have the greatest soldiers and airmen in the world. I've worked with them for 25 years, and they're just absolutely the lifeblood of America."
Enyart, an attorney in Belleville, has served in the Illinois Army National Guard since 1982, most recently as the deputy commanding general.
"Gen. Enyart brings a wealth of military and civilian experience to the Illinois National Guard," Gov. Blagojevich stated in a press release.
Among Enyart's priorities will be to try to retain more "mid-point career" troops who have served for eight to 10 years or more in the Guard.
"I think we really need to bring our families into this," Enyart said. "A soldier can't be a guardsman if the family doesn't support him."
Although the Guard has family support groups, he said, "it is a much different and much more difficult position for us than in the active Army." In the regular military, families often live at bases with their spouses. In the Guard, they can be spread out across a large geographic area, Enyart said.
He also hopes to work with the regular military to try to give Guard troops more notice about when they might be deployed, he said.
Additionally, he would like to see a policy where Guard troops wouldn't be redeployed for a certain period after they return.
As a Guard member, Enyart has been deployed to the Ukraine, Poland and Italy. He served as the Commander of the Illinois Army National Guard Forces deployed to Kiev, Ukraine, in July 2005. He also has served in Italy and Japan during active duty with the Air Force.
Enyart joined the Illinois National Guard in 1982 and has more than 30 years in the military, including his Air Force service.
As an attorney, he is a certified military trial lawyer licensed in Illinois and Missouri, U.S Federal courts and the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Armed Services.
He is also a certified trial lawyer.
Enyart and his wife, Annette Eckert, a circuit judge in St. Clair County, have two sons, Alex and Jay.