MONTGOMERY, AL (07/18/2014)(readMedia)-- Retirement for some is the dream of lounging in a hammock, playing golf or fishing at leisure. Simply, it is the freedom to do what is pleasing. For retired Brig. Gen. Wendell McLain and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bobby Vinson, retirement is the continued support to Chemical Corps missions.
Vinson became the first command sergeant major of the 31st Chemical Brigade in 2001. McLain became commander of the Alabama National Guard 31st Chemical Brigade in 2003.
Together, they developed a plan to get more than 1,000 Soldiers chemical qualified, making each a subject matter expert. During their leadership tenure, they deployed and redeployed more than 1,200 Soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005, during Hurricane Rita, McLain and Vinson assumed command of Task Force Alabama, responsible for the deployment of 1,200 or more Soldiers to southwest Louisiana. Task Force Alabama provided engineering support, security, and distribution of food and water for approximately two months.
The Chemical Corps Regimental Association recently honored McLain and Vinson with the Distinguished Member of the Corps award. According to the CCRA, nomination requirements for the Distinguished Member of the Corps award require members to serve the Corps in their professional lives and continue to serve in their personal lives.
"They are the first two Soldiers from the National Guard to be selected for the Distinguished Member of the Corps award. We are grateful for their continued contribution to the Chemical Corps," said Maj. Mike Davenport, administrative officer, 31st Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Brigade.
"I appreciate the recognition from the Chemical Corps Regimental Association. Most of all I must acknowledge the fine training at Fort Leonard Wood. Our response relies upon the training received at Fort Leonard Wood," said McLain.
The mission of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps is to "Protect the Force." On June 28, 1918, the War Department established the Chemical Warfare Service to manage chemical offensive and defensive programs. The mission has evolved into supporting the joint forces with combating weapons of mass destruction capabilities
"After a fulfilling career with the Alabama National Guard, it is an honor to continue working with the Corps. I also enjoy keeping watch on my former officers and how they have progressed," it makes me so proud of them and what they have accomplished," said McLain.
"I continue to mentor our senior NCOs so we will always have trained leaders for our future", stated Vinson.
McLain retired after working for Alabama Power Company for 38 years. He also retired at the rank of Brig. Gen. from the Alabama National Guard with more than 35 years of active duty and Guard service.
Vinson recently retired from the Clay County School System after working for 40 years and from the Alabama National Guard with more than 35 years of active duty and Guard service at the rank of command sergeant major.