How does one become a General was the question that ceremony host Lieutenant General Stephen Twitty asked as he addressed a crowd of family, friends and fellow soldiers who came to witness the promotion of Colonel David Wilson to the rank of Brigadier General at the Mark Clark Auditorium on the campus of The Citadel Military College on April 13, 2017.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Wilson. A Charleston native, Wilson graduated from nearby Burke High School in 1986. He would first enroll in Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia and would transfer to the Citadel to complete his education. Wilson was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation in 1991.
After 27 years of dedicated service, combat tours and various commands, Congress approved the rank of Brigadier General to Wilson making him the first African-American Citadel graduate to earn the rank while still in active duty. A month prior to the promotion Wilson reached another milestone by being named chief ordinance officer of the United States Army Ordinance School in Fort Lee, Virginia. Wilson is only the third African-American to head the school since its inception in 1812.
The audience in attendance did not consist only of family and friends. Several retired military personnel who served with Wilson came in support. Coach Earl Brown, who coached Wilson during his high school years, was on hand as well. Members of the Beta Mu and Mu Alpha Chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity were on hand as well to acknowledge and witness the historic moment that was being made. Internationally renowned opera vocalist Morris Derhon Robinson performed a stirring rendition of the national anthem and shared some thoughts on Brother Wilson.
“It was wonderful to see him come back full circle. He was a leader back then…and it’s great to see it all came to fruition,’’ said Robinson. He went on to say, “Being told that you have 90 days to live and making it years later and rising to the rank of general, it’s a tremendous accomplishment and to be the first African-American graduate of The Citadel to do so is even more special and I couldn’t think of a more deserving person.”
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony “A.C.” Cole was in attendance to support a dear friend that he reflected on during their military time served together. “When you talk about a guy with great character, a belief in himself, they didn’t give it enough justice saying when it comes time for him to keep going on and how he battled and fought,” stated Cole. During his remarks Lt. Gen. Twitty spoke of Wilson’s battle with Stage 4 cancer and how he endured the treatments and how he would later encourage Brother Twitty with his own ordeal with cancer.
Cole went on to say that Brother Wilson “is the smartest and most intelligent man and a man of Omega that I respect. There wouldn’t be any way I wouldn’t be here to support a man at this time in his life like I did when he had cancer.” The event was followed with a reception where Wilson was presented gifts and recognitions form the brothers of Beta Mu and the Mu Alpha Chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.