Sikeston man to lead state National Guard

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Sikeston lawyer King Sidwell will take command of the Missouri National Guard after Gov. Matt Blunt on Wednesday appointed him adjutant general of the state's military forces.

Sidwell, 54, logged 30 years of service in the Guard before retiring in August as a colonel. His last command was over the Engineer Brigade, 35th Infantry Division, based in Cape Girardeau.

If the appointment is confirmed by the state Senate as anticipated, Sidwell will be reinstated to active service with the rank of brigadier general.

With the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan requiring many Missouri National Guard units to serve on active duty in combat zones, Sidwell will lead the organization during a challenging time.

"My emphasis will be on the welfare of individual soldiers and airmen and unit readiness," Sidwell said.

As the wars have continued, the Guard's ability to attract new recruits has become an issue. However, Sidwell said his primary concern is to retain experienced Guard members whose terms of service have ended.

"If you treat soldiers right, you have a higher retention rate," Sidwell said. "If you have a higher retention rate, you have a higher level of unit readiness."

Ensuring that Missouri units are properly trained and prepared for mobilization will be another important task, Sidwell said.

Blunt announced the appointment at a news conference in St. Louis.

"King Sidwell displays outstanding experience and a progressive vision for a capable, efficient and honorable National Guard program," Blunt said.

Choice for adjutant general

State Rep. Peter Myers, R-Sikeston, called Sidwell an excellent choice for adjutant general.

"He brings good decision-making abilities," Myers said. "He is going to have some tough decisions to make."

Myers also praised Sidwell's willingness to step away from a successful law practice as a partner in the Sikeston firm of Blanton, Rice, Sidwell, Nickell, Cozean & Collins in order to serve the state.

"I think that speaks highly of the man," Myers said.

Tom Collins, a partner in the firm, said Sidwell's long affiliation with the Guard has prepared him to lead the organization.

"He has the experience and expertise to tackle the job," Collins said. "He is very well organized, is an excellent communicator and leads by example."

Sidwell and wife Cynthia have two sons, one of whom serves in the Missouri National Guard.

Sidwell is the third Bootheel resident Blunt has appointed to prominent posts in his administration. He previously named Fred Ferrell of Charleston as director of the Department of Agriculture and Michael Keathley of Bernie as commissioner of the Office of Administration.

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