Minnesota National Guard promotes its first African American General

  • Published
  • By Public Affairs Office
  • 133rd Airlift Wing
For the family of Brig. Gen. David Hamlar Jr., promotion ceremonies have been a normal event throughout his career. However, his most recent ceremony is different because of the special significance pinning the star on his shoulder means to the Minnesota National Guard.

Hamlar was promoted to Brigadier General, Monday, August 18, at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Hamlar is the first African American to achieve the rank of Brigadier General in the Minnesota National Guard.

"Col. Hamlar is not only an extraordinary leader in the Minnesota National Guard, he is an accomplished surgeon specializing in the reconstruction of skull deformities and brain tumors," said Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Richard C. Nash. "Hamlar's talent and both military and civilian skills makes him an incredible asset to not only our organization, but to the community as a whole."

After six years in the Ohio National Guard, Hamlar joined the Minnesota Air National Guard's 133rd Airlift Wing as a traditional Guardsman and general practice physician in 1995. Hamlar has served in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Strom, and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and numerous military humanitarian efforts around the world.

"He has deployed all over the world on numerous occasions, selflessly serving the nation. When he is not saving lives, he is searching for other opportunities to improve somebody's health," said Col. Jim Johnson, 133 Airlift Wing Commander. "Brig. Gen. Hamlar is an extremely talented and well-respected surgeon in both the military and civilian communities."

In his civilian practice, Hamlar specializes in and provides care for patients with cleft lip and palate, craniofacial deformities and children born with misshapen skulls. His expertise extends to traumatic injuries as well, which has been crucial in the care of our troops both home and abroad.

"My military career has shaped much of my life," said Hamlar. "I've done surgeries all over the world, but there is no better feeling than to better the life, or even save the life, of one of our wounded warriors."

This dedication to his profession, the military and his friends and family was apparent as more than 120 people filled the hall at the Minnesota Historical Society to watch the promotion of this respected leader and man who has inspired so many by the work that he does.

"He is the epitome of leading by example, never asking someone to do anything that he wouldn't do," said Johnson. "He frequently is the first one to undertake some of the more menial tasks because he knows they need to get done. The nation, state and community have benefitted from this brilliant individual and outstanding leader."

An avid sports enthusiast, he is also a consultant for Minnesota Gopher Sports teams, the Minnesota Vikings and Timberwolves, and has been a team physician with the Minnesota Wild since 2003.

His achievements in the military and the community make it obvious why he was promoted.

"If the reality of all of this is that if I am a first, then there should be a second and a third," said Hamlar. "Just keep the ball rolling, just don't stop at one."

Hamlar will serve as the Assistant Adjutant General - Air for the Minnesota National Guard, overseeing Minnesota National Guard units and maintaining two high-quality Air National Guard Wings assigned to the state of Minnesota.

"Many changes lay ahead for the Minnesota Air National Guard, however, you have my full confidence," said Nash. "You will build upon past successes and lead the organization to new thresholds of achievement. The future of the Minnesota Air National Guard has never looked brighter."