Although he commanded America's Army in the decisive attack against Baghdad in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace makes no claim to being a hero.
"I'm not an American hero. I'm a long way from it, but especially over the last several months, I served by 130 of them," Lt. Gen. Wallace told participants in a large luncheon gathered at the Gordon Club at Fort Gordon.
Lt. Gen. Wallace commanded the V Corps until June, then took on several positions including commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., deputy command general for combined arms, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, commandant of the U.S. Army command and general staff college director of Battle Command Battle Lab.
While in Iraq, he saw those soldiers he called true American heroes - the sergeant first class who threw himself in harm's way and gave his life to save the life of a private under his command, and the private who destroyed a T72 tank.
Then, there were the medics who provided the same compassion and care to an unusual mix of patients, all under the same medical tent - the private who lost his leg even though his first sergeant saved his life, an Iraqi woman and her daughter, and a Syrian terrorist who was wounded and captured.
Lt. Gen. Wallace told the capacity crowd at the Gordon Club not to believe everything they heard in the news about the war and continued efforts in Iraq.
"We are building a country armed with innovation, armed with values and we are supported by a grateful nation," he said.
"What we continue to do is give another group of people the greatest gift. We give them the opportunity for freedom; something they've been denied many years."
Besides speaking at the luncheon, Lt. Gen. Wallace met with Brig. Gen. Jan A. Hicks, Fort Gordon's commanding general, and other post officials about the innovations of the Signal Corps with its lifelong learning plans and increased technological advances in communications.
"This is one of the best events I can remember," Brig. Gen. Hicks said.
"He led the fight that took Baghdad," she said. He gave us "insights into our Army and what makes it so great."
Friday's event was a joint membership meeting of the Greater Augusta-Fort Gordon Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, the Augusta-Fort Gordon Chapter of Armed Forces and Communications Electronics Association and the Adolphus W. Greely Chapter of the Signal Corps Regimental Association.