La. National Guard loses WWII hero, 43rd Adjutant
Maj. Gen. (Retired) Erbon W. Wise, former adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, passed away, August 12, 2020, at the age of 99.
"Major General (Retired) Erbon Wise was a true American patriot serving our nation during World War II and participating in the Normandy Invasion at Utah Beach,” said Brig. Gen. Keith Waddell, adjutant general of the LANG. “Major General Wise culminated his 28-year military career as the 43rd adjutant general of our state from 1964-1968.”
On top of his military service, Wise wrote over twenty books, owned multiple newspapers in Texas and Louisiana, was a successful businessman and worked as a newspaper publisher until 1998. He enjoyed traveling and gave back to the community through his love of gardening.
Wise earned a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern State University in 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He served in England, France and Germany from 1941-1945, participating in four campaigns including the Normandy Landing (Utah Beach) and in the Paris Liberation. Wise then joined the Army Reserve component and served from 1946-1969.
Among his many decorations, Wise earned the Bronze Star Medal, European Theatre Operations Ribbon with four campaign stars, Distinguished Unit Emblem, Meritorious Unit Emblem, Army of Occupation Medal, WWII Victory Medal and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
In a 2009 interview with the State Military Department of Louisiana, Wise recounted when he met Winston Churchill on the French coast after the D-Day invasion in June of 1944.
Wise says, “I could see this little small plane was having trouble getting the door open. So, I went over and jerked the door open and out came Mr. Churchill and his big cigar. He was participating in the invasion and said, ‘Take me to the front lines!’” Wise goes on to say that after commandeering a Jeep, he drove Churchill a half a mile over a hill and watched the artillery battle for about 20 minutes before returning him to the plane.
“He accomplished more in a lifetime than most can aspire to,” said Waddell. “We not only lost a state treasure, but a national treasure as well."