"I'm really happy to have the opportunity to serve the governor and serve the state of Missouri and especially the soldiers and airmen of the Missouri National Guard," Sidwell said after the announcement.
Following the appointment's confirmation by the Senate, Sidwell will command the state's Army and Air National Guard as adjutant general.
The adjutant general is responsible for Missouri's National Guard personnel, the state Emergency Management Agency and the Civil Air Patrol.
Sidwell said it was not a position he has held aspirations for. "I really didn't give it serious consideration until this last summer," he said. "I saw there were some changes that needed to be made in the National Guard and that I was probably the right person to make those changes."
As adjutant general, Sidwell said he intends to place "more emphasis on the individual soldier welfare and unit readiness."
Sidwell, 54, has 30 years of commissioned service. He most recently worked as assistant corps engineer in the 35th Engineer Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood. He transferred to the retired reserve in August, and is working as an attorney in Sikeston.
''I've had the opportunity to command at the company, the battalion and the brigade level, and at each occasion I've taken units that were under strength and elevated them to over strength,'' Sidwell said at a news conference in St. Louis.
He said he hoped to do the same for the roughly 10,500 member Army and Air Guard in Missouri. ''You do that by taking care of your soldiers,'' he said.
Sidwell said he planned to make sure soldiers are paid on time, receive quality training, have their accomplishments recognized. He added he'd continue to work to get to know them personally.
He said his own son William, 22, is a Missouri National Guardsman, a heavy equipment operator with the 1140th Engineer Battalion deployed in southern Iraq. ''I'm proud of his service and his commitment, as I am of the other soldiers with him, many of whom I've known for 20 or 30 years,'' he said.
''When I talked to Colonel Sidwell and we were having a discussion about the potential of his leading of the National Guard, he seemed to have a keen understanding of retention concerns and recruitment concerns,'' Blunt said. The governor noted those issues remain challenges for the Guard, but he is convinced Sidwell could improve troop readiness and morale.
"I look forward for the National Guard to be an organization which all Missourians are proud of and look up to," Sidwell said.
A Sikeston native, Sidwell received a bachelor of science degree in industrial and systems engineering in 1972 from the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 1975, Sidwell earned a juris doctorate in law from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Currently he is a partner with Blanton, Rice, Sidwell, Nickell, Cozean and Collins LLC, Attorneys at Law in Sikeston,
Sidwell was prior enlisted from 1972-74 until receiving his commission on Aug. 10, 1974, upon completion of State Officer Candidate School at the Missouri Military Academy.
His military education includes: Engineer Officer Basic Course, Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course, Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course, Engineer Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College, Engineer Pre-Command Courses and a master of strategic studies in 2000 through the U.S. Army War College.
His numerous assignments include: Engineer Reconnaissance officer, Battalion executive officer, Detachment commander, Group Trial counsel, Group Operations officer, Brigade engineer Supply officer, Battalion S-3, Group S-1, Environmental officer, Area Damage Control officer, Group S-3, Brigade executive officer, Chief Military Support officer and director of maintenance for Headquarters STARC in Jefferson City.
In addition, Sidwell served as company commander for Charlie Company, 1140th Engineer Combat Battalion. As a lieutenant colonel, he commanded the Engineer Brigade, 35th Infantry Division from February 2002 through June 2004. Upon completion of his command assignment with the Engineer Brigade, 35th Infantry Division, Sidwell assumed the position of assistant Corps engineer, 35th Engineer Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood until transfer to the Retired Reserve.
Sidwell has received numerous awards and citations including the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), Army Commendation Medal (one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal (one Oak Leaf cluster), Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (one Silver Oak Leaf Cluster and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster).
Sidwell and his wife, Cynthia, reside in Sikeston. They have two sons, William Mitchell Sidwell II, age 22, and Trent Easterby Sidwell, age 7.
Sidwell succeeds Adj. Gen. Dennis Shull, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Bob Holden.
Shull said in a recent interview that he plans to return to the rank of colonel and has volunteered for active duty in Iraq.
Parts of this story were supplied by the Associated Press.