News: Gov. Walker swears in new Wisconsin Army Guard general officer
Story by Vaughn Larson
By Vaughn R. Larson
Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs
MADISON, Wis. — The path to becoming the Wisconsin National Guard's assistant adjutant general for readiness and training led from one open door to the next, Brig. Gen. Kenneth Koon explained during a formal promotion ceremony June 28, in the Senate Chamber of the state capitol building.
"You have to be sure that when somebody opens that door that you're ready to step through," Koon said, "to have the wherewithal to take that chance, to try and do a little better than you did yesterday, and continue to take our Guard to a place we've never experienced."
Koon, of Waunakee, Wis., enlisted in the Army in 1977 as a military policeman. After three years he joined the Army Reserves, which led to signing up for the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Receiving his commission in 1982, he transferred to the Wisconsin Army National Guard and received his first assignment as a support platoon leader in the 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment's headquarters company.
During his time in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Koon has served as a company commander, battalion commander, commandant of the 426th Regional Training Institute at Fort McCoy, Wis., and chief of staff under Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, deputy adjutant general for Army. Koon also commanded Forward Operating Base Grizzly and Camp Ashraf in Iraq , and served in many key roles as a military technician.
Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, praised Koon as an officer of great caliber.
"This man has had such a great career — he has served his state and country so well," Dunbar said. "He's one of those officers that is a deep, deep thinker, strategically. He has done command tours where he has dramatically improved the unit and left it far better than what he inherited. That’s just the kind of officer he is. He represents everything that is good about our military."
Gov. Scott Walker, who administered the oath of office to Koon, observed that recent natural emergencies in Wisconsin underscored the need for a ready and well-trained National Guard.
"You are worthy of being promoted, not only for what you have done, but in equal measure for what you will do going forward," Walker said.
Koon, who joined when military service was not highly regarded, said he has seen the Army National Guard transform into a "really, really good" organization over the course of his career.
"That's taken a lot of work from a lot of people to focus our readiness to a laser point," Koon said. "Seventy-eight percent of our soldiers have joined post-9/11 — they've known nothing but the point of the spear. It wasn't if they would go to war, it was when. Every day I try to remember that they wrote that check up to and including their lives."