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The Region

New Commander for 40th Infantry

Military: Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Gidley takes over state's largest National Guard unit from retiring Maj. Gen. Peter J. Gravett.

April 08, 2002|CHRISTINE HANLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Gidley, who flew rescue missions as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War and led medical troops during the Gulf War, was named Sunday to lead California's largest National Guard division.

Gidley, 54, became the 26th commanding general of the 40th Infantry Division during a ceremony at the Joint Task Training Base in Los Alamitos, succeeding Maj. Gen. Peter J. Gravett, who is retiring.

"I am overwhelmed with the scope and challenge presented by this assignment and as I reflect on all of the commanders who have come before me," Gidley said during his speech.

"It is an honor and privilege to stand now as one of those chosen to lead this great division."

Gidley, who earned biology degrees at UC Davis and Cal State Sacramento, joined the military in 1970.

A year later, he was assigned to the 237th Medical Detachment Qui Nhon in the Republic of Vietnam.

He spent about a year there, transporting wounded soldiers.

He returned to battle in 1990, commanding the 980th Medical Logistics Battalion in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War.

Gidley, who was most recently deputy commander of maneuvers for the 40th Infantry Division, will be in charge of 12,500 soldiers in 130 units, most of them based in California.

Some of the 40th Infantry forces are deployed to fight the war on terrorism.

Men and women protect California airports and bridges, the Mexican border and military depots in the West.

Gidley lives in Fair Oaks, and is chief of finance and administration at the Emergency Medical Services Authority, a state agency in Sacramento.

He said he plans to shuffle his schedule to be at Los Alamitos once or twice each week.

"This position is going to require me to be here more often," he said.

Gravett began his military career in 1968 and became commanding general in July 1999.

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