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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, right, and retired Lt. Col. Davina French secure Maj. Gen. Gigi Wilz's new rank to her uniform during her promotion ceremony in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday. 

Giselle “Gigi” Wilz, a member of the North Dakota National Guard, was promoted to the rank of major general at Arlington Hall Station, Arlington, Va. 

“I hope that I am doing the right thing for those who follow by being a role model and breaking down barriers; because it is not about being the first, but ensuring that you are not the last that counts,” Wilz said. “I have had great mentors that have told me just to take care of people because the world is about relationships. Take care of the soldiers and airmen who serve under you, and your career will go well.”

Wilz enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard in 1983 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1986 at age 19, becoming one of the youngest officers in the organization. During her 35-year career, she has served with the 136th Quartermaster Battalion, the 164th Engineer Battalion, the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and Joint Force Headquarters. She has held a variety of leadership positions within the North Dakota National Guard, from platoon leader to the Army Component chief of staff.

Wilz is credited with several overseas deployments. In 1990, she served with the 132nd Quartermaster Company in Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield. In 2009, she mobilized to Kosovo with the 141st MEB for a NATO international peacekeeping mission. From June 2015 until August 2017, she served as the commander for NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo and as the senior military representative for Camp Butmir, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Recently, she served in Puerto Rico, leading National Guard forces, which were helping the island recover from the damage incurred by Hurricane Maria.

Though Wilz is still a member of the North Dakota Army National Guard, she has been assigned as the special assistant to the director, Army National Guard, in Arlington, Va., since September 2017.

Wilz is the first female general officer from the North Dakota Army National Guard. Maj. Gen. Terry Scherling, an Air National Guard officer, who retired in 2009, was the first female general officer in the state’s national guard.