Thursday, July 29, 2004

Adjutant general fell into career

Vietnam made him love military

By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - As a youngster growing up in rural Kentucky, Maj. Gen. Donald Storm wouldn't have said he wanted to lead the state's National Guard when he grew up.

In fact, it wasn't until Storm had served in Vietnam that he decided to make the military a career.

"I was one of those people that had no intentions whatsoever of making a career out of the military," Storm said. "I came from a family that had limited resources. All my father wanted me to do was get a college education so I could have a better life than what he had."

Now, Storm heads a force of about 6,200 soldiers in the Kentucky Army National Guard, and more than 1,100 in the Kentucky Air Guard. Gov. Ernie Fletcher appointed Storm adjutant general in December.

Since then, the two-star general has pushed his goal of increasing the Guard's numbers, with a target of 7,000 in 2007. He's also traveled to Kuwait to monitor the Kentucky Guard's involvement in the Iraq war, where Kentucky Guard members have a mission that Storm says puts them "in the eye of the storm."

Storm's rise to the state's top National Guard job can be partially attributed to a de-politicization of the organization, said former Kentucky Adjutant General Allen Youngman. It created an atmosphere that allowed Storm to shine, said Youngman, who served during the administration of former Gov. Paul Patton.

A Kentucky native, Storm was born in Lily, in Laurel County just outside London.

On his father's advice, Storm enlisted in the Army for three years rather than enter as a draftee. During his time in Vietnam, Storm eventually became enamored of the military lifestyle.

"I liked the regimentation, I liked the values," Storm said. "I liked what we were trying to do in Vietnam. I'm not talking about politically. I'm talking about what the Army tried to do."

In May, 1972, Storm left active duty in the Army and enlisted in the Guard, where he's been ever since. He was commissioned as a first lieutenant in 1981. Among his other accomplishments, Storm graduated from the U.S. Army War College in 1998.

"I would have stayed on active duty, but it was hard for me to convince my parents that that was the right thing to do," Storm said.

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