ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – The Minnesota Air National Guard is making history by promoting the first African-American to the rank of Brigadier General.

David Hamlar has not only been a successful member of the air guard for more than 25 years, he has also had a successful civilian career as a surgeon.

And inside Minnesota’s History Center, history was made by making Hamlar the first African American to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the Minnesota National Guard.

“Never say ‘Should of, could of, would of.’ Prepare yourself at all times because you never know where opportunities are,” General Hamlar said.

Hamlar has been in the National Guard for 25 years.

He is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and other humanitarian missions.

Hamlar also has a successful civilian career as a surgeon, specializing in the reconstruction of skull deformities and brain tumors. He is currently the co-director of the Craniofacial Skull Base Center at the University of Minnesota.

“I want to share my story. I want to be able to help anyone coming after me look at what the possibilities are,” Hamlar said.

Gen. Hamlar says he will be responsible for taking care of personnel when they deploy and when they return from deployment, as well as bringing diversity to the guard.

“The demographics are changing. If you look at Minnesota, it’s not like it was 20 years ago,” Hamlar said.

He hopes to be an inspiration for others.

Hamlar believes by exposing people of color to the rich history of Minnesota’s guard he will be able to recruit a new generation of citizen soldiers, this state can be proud of.

“Once you see that, you want to be a part of it. So we just have to expose people to it. They have to know the guards story. They have to know we’re part of their community,” Hamlar said.

Gen. Hamlar has been working in his new position as Asst. Adjutant General for two months, where he has been doing outreach into the Hmong and Hispanic Communities.

He will also be responsible for finding new missions for the air guard here in Minnesota and abroad.

Reg Chapman

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