Leader of Illinois National Guard commended for nearly four decades of service
SPRINGFIELD – After nearly 36 years of military service and five years as the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, Maj. Gen. William Enyart of Belleville is retiring from the Illinois National Guard.
“Being the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard is the best job I’ve ever had,” Enyart said. “The Soldiers, Airmen and families of our troops have made my job an enjoyable experience. I will greatly miss all of the people who make this the best National Guard in the country.”
Enyart is the 37th Adjutant General of the state of Illinois, a position appointed by the governor. He is responsible for daily operations of the 13,000 servicemembers in the Illinois Army and Air National Guard.
“I thank Maj. Gen. Enyart for his more than 35 years of military service including the last five years leading the 13,000 men and women of the Illinois National Guard,” Gov. Pat Quinn said. “Illinois has the best National Guard in the United States and has had the best leader.”
Enyart is also the director of Military Affairs and has made a significant impact outside of the Illinois National Guard and its communities.
“He has established an unprecedented relationship with federal and state elected officials,” said James Smith of Chatham, Illinois National Guard Military Executive and a retired colonel with the Illinois National Guard who has known Enyart for more than 20 years. “He has allowed the department to grow and meet support requirements by the National Guard. He was also instrumental in changing laws that help our servicemembers and their families.”
Enyart is particularly proud of the Illinois National Guard’s State Partnership Program with Poland, which trains and co-deploys Illinois National Guard Soldiers with their Polish counterparts. The program was established in 1993, but has grown exponentially under Enyart’s direction, with Illinois National Guard Soldiers deployed with Polish Soldiers on every Polish deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.
“Under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Enyart, the Illinois National Guard State Partnership Program with Poland has become a national model for partnering and theatre security cooperation,” said Col. Paul Fanning of Chestnut, Joint Staff for Strategic Plans and Policies for the Illinois National Guard. “ The Illinois National Guard State Partnership Program with Poland builds enduring military-to-military relationships, which enhanced long-term international security while building partnership capacity.”
Quinn has named Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti of Springfield, the Assistant Adjutant General – Army, as the acting Adjutant General until a new Adjutant General and Director of Military Affairs is selected.
Celletti said Enyart’s experience and expertise will be missed, but it’s his leadership that will be hard to replace.
“He was a strong supporter of our family programs and wounded warriors,” Celletti said. “His leadership during two major floods, a winter storm and the recent NATO Summit in Chicago shows how important our National Guard can be inside Illinois borders. He is a leader that will be missed and undoubtedly hard to replace.”
Enyart served active duty in the U.S. Air Force when he first enlisted in 1976. He served as commander of the Illinois Army National Guard forces deployed to Kiev, Ukraine in July 2005. He was selected to brief the Polish Army and Air General Staff on mobilization policy of U.S reserve military forces. He has also served overseas in Vincenza, Italy and Okinawa, Japan.
Enyart has a law degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law and served as an attorney in Belleville during the onset of his career.
Enyart said he is honored to have been given the opportunity to serve the state of Illinois in such a high capacity.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve as the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard,” Enyart said. “To have led the Illinois National Guard through the largest single deployment of Soldiers since World War II and to have served through floods, blizzards and ice storms with the finest men and women in the world has taught me a greater appreciation for the strength of this great nation, for the strength of its servicemembers, its families and its working men and women.”
He is married to retired St. Clair County Judge Annette Eckert. Together they have two sons and a daughter-in-law.