- Associated Press - Thursday, May 21, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The first female general in the North Dakota Army National Guard says her father always believed she should be a general.

Col. Giselle “Gigi” Wilz, of Bismarck, was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony Wednesday at the North Dakota Heritage Center.

“I think we all dream about it, but for the last 10 or 15 years, this has been something I’ve been striving for,” she said.

Wilz, a native of Richardton, comes from military roots. Her father, the late Charles Wilz, was a Korean War veteran who retired from the National Guard as a colonel after 39 years of service. Three of her five siblings and a nephew also served as officers with the Guard. Between them, they have more than 165 years of military service.

Wilz has served in the Guard for 32 years, after enlisting in 1983 as a military police officer with the 191st Military Policy Company. Throughout her career, she has held various leadership positions, most recently as the Guard’s chief of staff. She said she hopes she has set an example for both women and men.

“If somehow I’ve knocked a few barriers down for females along the way, then that’s a great thing, too,” she said.

Wilz, who has served overseas in the Middle East, Kosovo and Africa, leaves this month for a one-year tour commanding NATO forces operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Service and strong leadership are the hallmarks of her military career,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement. “I wish her and her team all the best during their tour of duty in Europe, and I know that they will represent North Dakota very well.”

While Wilz is the first Army Guard general in the state, she is the second female general. The first to earn the distinction was Maj. Gen. Terry Scherling, of the North Dakota Air National Guard, who retired in 2009.

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