‘Big Red 1’ bids farewell to MacWillie
Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie, outgoing 1st Inf. Div. deputy commanding general for support, salutes the colors as they are retired by the CGMCG April 25 during his Victory Honors ceremony outside of the 1st Inf. Div. headquarters. Photo by: Amanda Kim Stairrett, 1ST INF. DIV.
Story by: Mollie Miller
1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS
At the end of an Army career, long after the blasts of the tanks have quieted and the rotor blades have stilled, after the band has stopped playing and the troops have marched off to new missions, the ruler by which old Soldiers judge success is often the people who still stand to their left and right. For Brig. Gen. Donald M. "Skip" MacWillie, outgoing 1st Infantry Division deputy commanding general for support, those who stood beside him April 25 following a Victory Honors Ceremony outside of the 1st Inf. Div. headquarters – his wife, Sherri, daughter, Melyssa-Anne, and son, Kyle – told the story of more than three decades of successful service. More than that, though, they told the story of a successful life.
"I have enjoyed every second of this journey," he said.
The ceremony in Victory Park offered the Central Flint Hills Region an opportunity to bid farewell to one of the division's leaders and celebrate an Army journey that began at Texas A&M University and took the fifth-generation Soldier across the nation and around the world.
"There have been no 'take a knee' jobs for Skip," said Maj. Gen. William Mayville, commanding general, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley. "The (Army Family) has been the recipient of more than 30 years of understanding, caring and outstanding leadership. We are humbled by your great accomplishments."
A Texas native, who spent much of his career in the "Lone Star" state, MacWillie joined the "Big Red One" for the first time in his career about two years ago. During a welcome ceremony in front of his new division's headquarters building Aug. 15, 2011, MacWillie promised the 1st Inf. Div. team he would "work hard every day to make a difference for our Soldiers and their Families."
That was a promise MacWillie delivered on, according to Mayville, when the division headquarters deployed to Afghanistan in the spring of 2012 to take over as head of Regional Command-East, and MacWillie remained in Kansas to serve as the senior commander of the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley at home.
"Skip was the senior mission commander when most of the division was back here, and that was no easy task," Mayville said. "He kept us competitive, (and) he provided the vision that kept (the division) moving forward. There are lots of places that are struggling with things that we aren't struggling with, and I credit Skip with this."
Soldiering has long been the Family business for the MacWillie clan, and that will not end with the general's retirement. The general's son, Lt. Kyle MacWillie, a sixth-generation Soldier, is currently training at Fort Rucker, Ala., and will soon follow his dad into the Army Aviation Family.
"The future of the MacWillie clan is secure," the general said.
MacWillie is set to retire in Texas with his Family.