From the very beginning, Greg Fulton, a deputy with the Vilas County Sheriff’s Department, wanted to join the Army and his dad, Barry, said Greg always wanted to be an Army Ranger.
“We’re very pleased that he’s in his career and pretty well done what he set out to do,” he said. “We’re very proud.”
Greg Fulton joined the Army in 1991 and indeed became a Ranger, assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
He deployed to Haiti in 1994 in support of Operation Uphold Democracy.
When Fulton joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1998, he switched from an infantry military occupational specialty to that of combat engineer.
“When I was going into the National Guard, I wanted to do something different,” Fulton told The Lakeland Times in 2013 around the time he was awarded the Silver Star for his actions on a 2009 deployment to Afghanistan. “I wanted to do something that would keep my interest in it.”
Fulton’s first deployment with the Wisconsin Army Guard was to Iraq in 2003 as a platoon sergeant with the 724th Engineer Battalion.
In 2008, Fulton became the 1st Sgt. for the 951st Engineer Company (Sapper), in Tomahawk and Rhinelander.
In 2009 came the deployment to Afghanistan with the 951st, a deployment that resulted in a Silver Star for Fulton.
He became the first Wisconsin National Guard soldier since World War Two to be awarded the Silver Star, only two medals below the Medal of Honor in order of precedence.
On Saturday, May 3, during a brief ceremony in Madison, Fulton was one of three people inducted into its Hall of Honor.
The Hall of Honor was established in August of 2000, and Fulton is the first active member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard to be inducted.
‘Part of his life’
Greg Fulton followed his dad, Barry, into military service.
Barry Fulton served a total of 33 years in the Air Force, six years active and the rest in the Air Force Reserve, retiring as a master sergeant in 2012.
Greg’s mother, Cynthia, said the military, like it was for his dad, is “a part of Greg’s life.
“He’s been in the military all these years and we’re very proud of him for his commitment,” Cynthia said. “He doesn’t talk about it. He’s very modest ... very much so. He doesn’t talk about a lot of things ... even when he was a little kid. When he gets excited, he just gets a little smirk on his face and doesn’t tell us much.”
“He’s always been ‘gung-ho,’” Barry said. “Whatever he does, it’s ‘gung-ho.’”
“Finding themselves in a grave and dangerous situation, First Sergeant Fulton and his team developed an improvised breaching device that allowed them to neutralize the remaining insurgents and clear the building,” reads a portion of Greg Fulton’s Silver Star citation.
That “device” mentioned in the award citation wasn’t anything Fulton and his men developed previously.
It was on the spot.
“When they told me how it was done, I wasn’t even shocked,” Cynthia Fulton said. “Because ... that’s how he does things. It was like ... so Greg. To think outside of the box and do something that you have to get done. I’m so very proud of him.”
Barry and Cynthia Fulton came up from their home in Georgia just to be in Madison for the Hall of Honor ceremony.
“He tried to talk us into not coming up,” Cynthia said. “It’s been a real honor to be part of this. To have Greg recognized like this ... it’s just really nice. We drove 13 hours and he was like, ‘It’s just a one day thing. Don’t bother coming up.’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? We will not miss this. For anything.’”
“We try to do a lot of family stuff,” Barry said. “We have family all the way from Florida to Wisconsin so we try to keep everybody together.”
He said he and Cynthia get up to the home of Greg and his wife, Sandra, in Arbor Vitae every summer.
“We bring grandchildren so the grandchildren can be together,” he said. “When you’re little kids, if you don’t know your cousins, then as you get older, they’re just another person. Greg’s real good with all the kids.”
“Very family oriented,” his mother said.
Greg’s mother- and father-in-law, Fred and Louise Colman, live in Arbor Vitae, and Fred echoed Barry’s sentiments regarding how good Greg is with the kids and added one more thing.
“He knows all the good fishing spots,” he said with a smile.
Greg and Sandra Fulton have been married for nearly 15 years and like his parents, she’s very proud and also touched by his modesty.
“We’ve been through a couple overseas deployments,” she said. “He’s not very open. He doesn’t share things like that.”
Sandra Fulton said it was around the time of last year’s Silver Star ceremony that she really first heard the story of what her husband did to earn it.
“I happened to come across the citation myself and read it,” she said. “He talks to other soldiers about it but he didn’t share that with me. He likes to keep family and his military service kind of separate. I’m glad I didn’t know a lot of details when he was there [in Iraq and Afghanistan].”
‘We’re all very proud’
Greg Fulton has been with the Vilas County Sherriff’s Department for 14 years and another long-time member of the sheriff’s department, Sheriff Joe Fath, also attended the Hall of Honor ceremony.
“I think we’re all very proud of Greg,” he said. “Obviously, this a carry-through from his receiving the Silver Star. We’re all proud of Greg and the job he does for our department. He stands out in our department and it’s nice to see this recognition for him from the military. I know the U.S. Army thinks highly of Greg because I’ve talked to his commanders over the years and this obviously is a real honor for him, his unit, his family and it reflects on the kind of personnel we have in our department.”
Fulton’s current unit is one he’s been with for about a year, the 273rd Engineer Company in Medford.
The unit’s commander, Capt. Pete Owen, said Fulton is “an outstanding leader.
“Every day of the week,” he said. “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He sets the example that you want to see out of every soldier.”
With the ceremony occurring on a drill weekend, Owen said Fulton was honored in the ceremony but then it was going be back to work with the Guard.
“We’re going to see a fine example of a soldier and non-commissioned officer,” he said.
‘The key to my story’
In an interview with The Lakeland Times prior to the ceremony, Greg Fulton said what his induction into the Hall of Honor means to him is it reinforces that what he’s been doing “has been fairly right. So far.
“In the military, you typically don’t get a lot of positive reinforcement at times,” he said. “You always do what you think is right in a situation.”
Fulton began his brief remarks at the ceremony in a way his parents, his wife and probably anyone who knows him would expect.
“I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t have to say anything today,” he joked. “Basically, my story has been one of fortune. I have a good family ... they’re very supportive. I’m fortunate with the units I’ve been in. I’ve always been surrounded by good people and that’s the key to my story. The people around me.”
Brian Jopek may be reached at email@example.com.