Giant of Iowa National Guard Passes Away, Leaves Behind Important Legacy

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Integrity, character, and leader are some of the words used to describe the late Major General Warren G. Lawson by those who knew him and served with him. The retired Major General passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the age of 83.

"My entire military career, from the day I was a Private, to the day he left the organization, as the Adjutant General, he always set the standard," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the current Adjutant General of Iowa, as he shared his thoughts and memories of Lawson, who was the 26th Adjutant General of Iowa. "He lived by the Army Values and as a young leader, we all aspired to be a General Lawson," said Orr. Orr learned a lot from his former boss and mentor. "I learned how to be a soldier. I learned how to be a leader. I learned how to take care of the men and women, understand what it is that we`re all about. Understand that this isn`t just a job, it`s a career."

Orr's not the only one who learned a lot from Lawson. Lots of other people who served under and alongside Lawson left similar comments on the Iowa National Guard's facebook page, heaping praise on Lawson with the news of his passing.

At the Joint Forces Headquarters Building in Johnston, Lawson's legacy can be seen all around. "This is the Joint Forces Headquarters Building. It was completed in 1994. General Lawson was absolutely instrumental in procuring the land and funding and working with multiple agencies to get this building created. It wouldn't have happened, but for his efforts," said Col. Greg Hapgood, Director of Public Affairs for the Iowa National Guard. "This is a statue that was dedicated to General Lawson after his retirement in 1999. It`s the Minuteman statue, which really is the basis of those that serve in the National Guard, leaving your home or your farm or your business and going to service for your state or your nation. General Lawson epitomized that minuteman."

Col. Hapgood describes Lawson a fatherly figure who had a remarkable ability to motivate people towards a common goal. "He`s mentored thousands of our young men and women over his 44 years of service, and you know, he was a guy who if he said something was gonna happen, it was gonna happen," said Hapgood.

One of the best examples of Lawson's leadership was during the floods of 1993. "I was a Captain in 1993 when the water plant was lost and immediately General Lawson brought to staff a team together and he prioritized the efforts to get water back to this community, and more important to the critical infrastructure, the hospitals and so because he was respected nationally, he was able to reach out to other states, bring in the resources, the assets, bring in the Department of Defense and very, very quickly he brought action to what would have been a disaster," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr.

Those who worked with him say Lawson came to the Iowa National Guard in the 1980's, at a time, post-Vietnam, in which the organization was in desperate need of leadership, and Lawson helped turn things around completely. His funeral will be held at Camp Dodge in Johnston in September.