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News from the Oklahoma National Guard

NEWS | Aug. 3, 2022

OKNG senior leader goes extra mile for 50th birthday

By Pfc. Haden Tolbert, 145th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

For one Oklahoma National Guard senior leader, simply turning 50 was not enough - he needed a challenge.

“Everybody says 50 is a big birthday,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Walter Jolly, the former command sergeant major for the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “I decided I was gonna do something 50. I didn't want to just ride a bike for 50 miles because that's not challenging enough, but 50 miles running is too much, so I found a 50 [kilometer run] in Texas that was actually on my birthday.”

According to their website, the Chupacabra 50 Trail Run is a 33.03 mile run through a variety of terrain taking place in Quanah, Texas. Jolly completed the 50 kilometer run in 6 hours 39 minutes and 19 seconds.

“I've always loved to run,” Jolly said. “It's my therapy. Basically my alone time, my thought processing time.”

Jolly’s passion for running stems from his introduction into the Army. Despite being a high school athlete, Jolly says he never ran two miles before taking part in a fitness test. Nowadays he is averaging six miles a day, with that number reaching double digits while he was preparing for the 50K in May.

“I would do a 20 mile run and then turn around and do a 22 mile run the next day, “ said Jolly. “I did the memorial marathon at the end of April just to train for the 50k.”

Having developed a love of running from the Army Physical Fitness Test, Jolly encourages younger Soldiers to embrace the new Army Combat Fitness Test as a way to better themselves as well as their careers.

Jolly says in order to stay eligible to be promoted, you need to take physical fitness seriously, and to do your part in order to stay eligible for promotion. He says it's the same in the military and personal life, the only way to get good at something is to train.

Having spent almost 30 years in the Oklahoma National Guard in several of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team's subordinate units both at home and on two combat deployments, Jolly has worked with hundreds of Oklahoma Citizen-Soldiers and is proud to say his first priority has always been the Soldiers.

“I wasn't in it for myself or the money or anything like that,” Jolly said. “My focus was how can I help Soldiers and make it better for them and whether it was a policy change or just being an advocate for a Soldier. That was the fuel that kept me going and, it's the Soldiers that continue to call me and ask for mentorship, ask for help. That shows me that I've done something right.”

Throughout his career, Jolly has stayed grounded and remained the person he was when he enlisted no matter the circumstances or situation.

“I [have always been] the same person in uniform and out of uniform,” Jolly said. “With [increases in] rank, I didn't change, each and every year that I served in the military from my first day to my last.”

Jolly looks back on his time as both a Soldier and a leader with the 45th IBCT as an honor and privilege. As the former command sergeant major of the 45th, he is proud of everything he accomplished and also what he learned and the memories he made as a part of the unit.

“The 45th IBCT is 99 percent of my service in the 30 years that I served, and it's definitely been an honor to not only be in the United States Army, but be in the Oklahoma Army National Guard,” Jolly said. “There's no doubt that being a member, a small part of the 45th IBCT has been a huge pleasure and a huge blessing to me and my family, and I owe the organization a lot.

“In those 30 years, what it's done for me and my family, we're truly blessed,” said Jolly. “It's not just about the retirement [pay] and it wasn't just about the [military pay]. There's a lot of friendships there and memories that I'll always cherish and hold close.”
Video by Sgt. Reece Heck
Oklahoma National Guard American Indian Heritage Month feature - Sgt. Brooke Wasoski
145th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Nov. 22, 2022 | 1:02
This American Indian Heritage Month, Sgt. Brooke Wasoski, a combat medic with the Medical Readiness Detachment, 90th Troop Command, Oklahoma National Guard, reflects on what the month means to her as a Soldier and member of the Choctaw Nation.

Graphic Information:
Sgt. Brooke Wasoski
Combat Medic
Medical Readiness Detachment

Some footage provided by the Choctaw Nation