FORT HOOD — With the help from his family, Michael Bills added a second star to his uniform and many hats of today’s cavalryman.
His wife, Megan, sons, Michael and Matthew, and his parents adjusted the 1st Cavalry Division commander’s beret, Stetson and patrol cap to reflect the rank of major general during a promotion ceremony Friday afternoon at Cooper Field.
“I stand before you humbled — honored as well,” Bills said.
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, recited the oath with Bills.
“You pin on a second star because we have trust and confidence in you,” Milley said.
Bills enlisted in the Army in 1976, and commissioned as a second lieutenant armor officer in 1983 when he graduated from George
Mason University. He first deployed to Iraq during Desert Storm, then twice more since 2003. During his 2003 deployment with the 1st Infantry Division, Bills earned a Silver Star.
“He demonstrated personal courage under fire,” Milley said. “I have nothing but praise for you Mike for that.”
In 2006, Bills began his 33-month command of 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, moving the unit to Fort Hood from Fort Carson, Colo., then deploying with the Brave Rifles for 15 months.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. William Burns served with Bills on that deployment. He said he immediately packed his bags and drove overnight from Fort Benning, Ga., to attend Bills’ promotion ceremony on last-minute notice.
“That’s my guy. That’s my commander,” he said. “He’s really an all-around great guy. He’s very passionate about soldiers and the Army.”
In the coming days, Bills will leave Fort Hood to lead 300 soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division’s headquarters to conduct operations in Regional Command South in Afghanistan.
“Soldiering is an affair of the heart,” Bills said. He thanked his family and mentors for their support and guidance over his career.