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Aug. 3, 2004

ULM Alumnus Rises in Ranks to Three Star General

Many people in the state of Louisiana recognize the name Robert Wooley as the state insurance commissioner. But, Robert has an older brother who is also creating a name for himself.

General Bryan Brown, Commanding General of the United States Special Operations Command promoted Michael W. Wooley, Robert's brother, to lieutenant general in the United States Air Force in a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla. July 29. The new three-star general assumed command of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command in a ceremony there July 1. Air Force Special Operations Command, or AFSOC, is one of the Air Force's ten major commands and the Air Force component of U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

The general's roots run deep in Louisiana. The Wooley family moved to Monroe in 1967. The entire 5-member family attended ULM. Mike Wooley is a 1972 graduate of the then NLU (ULM) with a BBA. His (2) brothers are ULM alumni, also. Richard, "Rick" Wooley graduated in 1983 and Robert Wooley in 1974. His mother and father are Idella and Bernard Wooley.

General Wooley said, "Even though we moved to Monroe my senior year of high school, I have wonderful memories of the Northeast Louisiana State College. Aviation is one of my passions and I really benefited from the partnership with the Aviation Department and the great people at Selman Field. My education at the university helped get me to where I am today."

Idella Wooley is very proud of her sons and says she never imagined they would hold such prestigious jobs. "Not in my wildest dreams, though I had high hopes for all of my children."

She says Mike was always interested in planes, even as a child. "That's all he ever wanted to do was fly airplanes. He washed airplanes and cut grass. My husband's brother had an airport and he made a deal with Mike to cut the grass and the wash airplanes. Mike learned to fly in Alexandria.

"He worked at the airport in Monroe and learned a lot. He set his goals when he was very young and went for it. He majored in business so he could manage an airport. He just wanted to be in the airplane business," said his mother. Gen. Wooley was then recruited in the U.S. Air Force and the rest is history.

His mother says using the word "proud" to describe how she feels about her son is an understatement. "I am just kind of stunned by it. It does not soak in. I am just now getting used to one star. When he made colonel that was quite a milestone, and when he kept moving on I was ecstatic."

"You have high expectations for all of your children but when they go that high you don't know what to think. Most people who reach those high ranks are academy graduates."

Commissioner Wooley said he has a sense of pride about his brother. "I am pretty proud. Very few families have lieutenant generals in them and that is a pretty big honor to have moved that far in his profession."

The Commissioner also says getting his degree at ULM helped shape both his and his brother's future. "I think it was the best education that you could receive and I think that the standards at ULM are as high today, if not higher than when we attended school which is a really good testament to ULM, President Cofer and his staff, and their commitment to academic excellence," said Commissioner Wooley.

General Wooley faces big responsibilities in his new role. AFSOC provides Air Force Special Operations Forces and Combat Search and Rescue for worldwide deployment and assignment to unified combatant commanders. The command has approximately 20,000 personnel, including active-duty Airmen, civilians and AFSOC-gained Reserve and Air National Guard members. AFSOC Airmen are among the nation's busiest warriors, with hundreds deployed at all times around the world in the global war on terrorism.

General Wooley received his commission from Officer Training School and is a distinguished graduate of undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Okla. He has commanded the 17th Military Airlift Squadron; the 375th and 86th airlift wings, and was Vice Commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command. At U.S. Forces Korea, the general was responsible for formulating strategy and policy for matters pertaining to the Republic of Korea and Northeast Asia. Prior to assuming his current position, he was Commander, 3rd Air Force, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England.

Mike and his wife, the former Kathy McClary a 1974 ULM graduate, have two daughters.

For a complete bio of Mike Wooley, visit the U.S. Air Force web site at

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