FORT MCPHERSON — Georgia Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Joseph M. Wells made history on Saturday when he became the state’s first African-American general officer during a promotion ceremony held at Fort McPherson.
“This is truly an honor. I’m overwhelmed,” said Wells, who credited family and friends with giving him the support he needed to reach this level.
Remarking on Wells’ accomplishment, Maj. Gen. William T. Nesbitt, adjutant general, said that it was not only an important day for Wells and his family, but for the Georgia Guard as a whole.
“What this means to everybody in our organization is that if you are willing to work hard, to get yourself qualified, to take on the tough jobs, then you have the opportunity to rise to the top of this organization, regardless of your race or gender,” said Nesbitt.
Wells said that he hopes his promotion will inspire others to strive toward achieving their dreams, recognizing that hard work does pay off in the Georgia Guard.
“I feel like my most important mission is to give back to younger soldiers and to provide that beacon that they can point to and say, ‘hey, I can do this as well,’” said Wells.
He originally enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1975 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Georgia Army National Guard in 1982.
In addition to two undergraduate degrees, Wells earned a Master of Science degree in strategic intelligence from the American Military University, and a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the Army War College.
His past assignments include training officer for the 151st Military Intelligence Battalion, commander and flight operations officer for the 158th Military Intelligence Battalion, security and intelligence officer for the 122nd Rear Area Operations Center, assistant intelligence officer for VII Corps during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, deputy inspector general for the 78th Troop Command and Headquarters State Area Command and at National Guard Bureau, executive officer for HQ STARC, and deputy chief of intelligence and director of intelligence at Joint Forces Headquarters.
His military decorations and awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Distinguished Military Graduate, the National Defense Service Medal, The Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Southeast Asia Freedom Medal, and the Army Service Medal.
Wells is currently assigned as the deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca. He is also a full-time commercial airline pilot.