WARSAW, POLAND - With a Polish Army band, military parade and a dress and review, Army Maj. Gen. William Enyart, the adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, received the Polish Army Medal here today.
According to the award description it was established by Poland on September 3, 1999 to recognize the service foreign civilians and military personnel provide to the Polish Army. The medal is presented in three grades Gold, Silver, and Bronze by the Polish Minister of National Defense.
In receiving the Gold grade of the medal, Enyart joins a short list of American generals to receive the award including former Army Chief of Staff Gen. (ret.) George W. Casey, former Central Command Commander and current CIA Director Army Gen. (ret.) David Petraeus, African Command Commander Army Gen. Carter Ham, and Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the Commander of International Security Assistance Force- Afghanistan and United States Forces - Afghanistan.
The medal was signed by Polish Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak and was approved by the Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski.
"I am both humbled and honored to receive this medal from Poland," Enyart said. "This honor belongs to the Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who have worked side-by-side with the Polish for close to 20 years."
Enyart, who was on an official visit to Poland with the U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Thomas Lamont, commands the 13,000-member Illinois National Guard, which has had a State Partnership Program with Poland since 1993.
Aside from military-to-military and military-to-civilian exchanges and co-training, the Illinois National Guard also co-deploys with Polish forces, first to Iraq and now to Afghanistan. The Illinois National Guard's Bilateral Embedded Support Team (BEST) has approximately 20 Soldiers serving with a Polish brigade in Afghanistan today.
In May, Illinois National Guard troops who specialize in responding to domestic attacks and disasters trained with Polish troops in preparation to Eurocup 2012, which Poland is hosting. As part of the planning, Enyart met with Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces Gen. Franciszek Gągor.
This week, military attorneys from the Illinois National Guard and the Polish military are discussing military law and the military legal systems in the two countries. Enyart, who holds a law degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law, was instrumental in setting up this exchange.
After an April 2010 airplane crash in Russia killed Polish President Lech Kaczyński and many of Poland's top civilian and military leaders, Enyart rushed to Poland to offer his personal condolences to the Polish people.
"I knew most of these men personally and was blessed to consider them friends and colleagues. Several of my troops served under these officers in combat and will forever be grateful for their inspired leadership," Enyart said in April 2010.
After a volcano in Iceland prevented further travel from the United States to Poland, Enyart represented the U.S. Secretary of Defense and was the senior military representative of the U.S. government to attend the Polish officials' funerals.