The promotion of a U.S. Army captain and Fort Smith business owner to major drew one of Arkansas’ U.S. senators to Fort Chaffee on Saturday.
U.S. Army Maj. and Fort Smith Brewing Co. owner Quentin Willard was promoted to his current rank at the Museum of Chaffee History on Saturday morning. Willard’s promotional ceremony included an address from U.S. Sen. John Boozman, who nominated Willard to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 2003.
“This is a guy who would be successful in any field he went into, but he chose to serve his country,” Boozman said.
Though Willard is perhaps best known in Fort Smith for his contribution to the local beer scene, his military career spans a decade and a half. Boozman said he appointed Willard to attend West Point after seeing his natural leadership abilities as a student at Van Buren High School.
“He was a great athlete, and he was very, very good in his studies,” Boozman said of Willard.
Willard graduated from West Point as a 2nd Lt. Field Artillery Officer in 2007. He then trained for a year in Fort Sill, Okla., before serving a tour in South Korea defending against the North Korean regime near the countries’ shared border.
Willard served in South Korea twice — first after graduating from West Point, and then after graduating the Captain’s Career Course at Fort Sill. He began the Career Course in 2010.
“That area of the world has always been volatile,” Paul Beran, chancellor of the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, said. “That particular assignment, which he did for a long time, really, in military time, is very stressful, yet at the same time, he was very successful in the ranks during his time there.”
After his tours in South Korea, Willard taught future military officers at Providence College in Rhode Island. He transitioned from active duty to the reserves in 2015.
When he’s not serving up brews, Willard can now be seen training the next generation of U.S. Army officers through University of Arkansas-Fort Smith’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.
“To get a graduate from West Point who has lived the military life in the most extreme way to be able to come and talk and give that insight that he has to our students is really invaluable for them,” Beran said.
Willard expressed thanks to his friends and family at the ceremony Saturday.
“It is this support group that is in this room today that gives me the courage and drive to do everything I do,” Willard said.
Willard also thanked the River Valley community as a whole at the ceremony. He said the personalities of people in the River Valley are “truly a cut above the rest.”
Willard also thanked his parents, Jeff and Sally Willard, who pinned his shoulder patches onto his uniform in front of a standing audience.
“My personality couldn’t be further from a military man, but the values and ethics you’ve taught me have allowed me to have a positive influence within the organization,” Willard said to his parents
Boozman was proud to see his appointee receive this promotion.
“To see these high school students grow to leaders of men and women is just amazing,” he said.