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Two alumni inducted into Georgia Military Veterans' Hall of Fame

Maj. Gen. James Adrian Guest and Maj. Gen. Jack Cox Wheeler were inducted into the Georgia Military Veterans' Hall of Fame on Nov. 2 and presented with the medallion, certificate and coin.

Two University of North Georgia (UNG) alumni, both retired U.S. Army generals, joined the ranks of the Georgia Military Veterans' Hall of Fame this year.

Maj. Gen. James Adrian Guest and Maj. Gen. Jack Cox Wheeler were inducted into the Georgia Military Veterans' Hall of Fame on Nov. 2 and presented with the medallion, certificate and coin.

The two men were among 15 veterans from the branches of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to be selected for the Class of 2019. Since its inception in 2013, 115 Georgia veterans have been inducted and 13 are UNG alumni.

Wheeler said he felt others were more deserving to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"I feel very honored and humbled," said the 80-year-old from Fayetteville, Georgia. "But I served my country because I felt I was making a contribution to an organization and an institution that was extremely worthwhile."

Guest agreed.

"God blessed me with my wife Nancy, my children, my friends, those I served with, and his protection and guidance," he said. "I am humble and grateful for this honor and accept it in tribute to those soldiers I served with."

Wheeler graduated from UNG in 1961 and entered into active duty in 1962. His early career included commands and staff assignments in Korea, Vietnam, Germany, and the Pentagon.

In 1971, Wheeler was selected as one of the primary action officers to develop plans and policies for the all-volunteer Army. From 1989 to 1993, he was the commanding general of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command. During that time, Wheeler was tasked to recruit volunteers to staff a combat force during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He said it was the highlight of his career.

"When the Gulf War broke out in August 1990, we had just completed the best year of recruiting that we ever had. Then all of a sudden recruiting fell," he said. "Then when Congress decided to support the war, recruitment turned around. We had one of the best years we ever had after that."

Wheeler retired in 1993. He said he never intended to make the Army his career, but attributes his success to the lessons he learned as a member of the Corps of Cadets at UNG.

"We learned very early about leadership from members of Corp of Cadets. From time you first entered North Georgia to the time we graduated from North Georgia regardless of age, you were a leader," he said.

Guest's first assignment after graduating and commissioning in 1960 was with the 101st Airborne. He planned to serve for three years, but his career path changed when he volunteered for the Special Forces.

"I enjoyed it and liked the work I was doing," said Guest, who lives in Toccoa, Georgia.

When the Vietnam War erupted, Guest was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division as an Infantry Company Commander and a Brigade assistant operations officer during 1966-67. For his valorous combat actions, Guest was awarded the Bronze Star with "V" device and the Silver Star.

He said the highlight of his career was commanding his men in battle.

"It was what you studied for and what you wanted to do if you were in the infantry," Guest said.

When Vietnam ended, he had served for 15 years and decided to stay longer, holding several Special Forces command positions that were instrumental in the successes of Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989-1990 and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Iraq during 1990-1991.

Guest retired in 1993. He credits UNG with giving him a foundation to succeed in the service.

"It taught me the skills and tactics to be in the infantry," Guest said. "It taught me honor, loyalty, integrity, and to give it your best. I learned to be loyal to the commanders above me and loyal to the men below me."

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