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Former Iowa National Guard leader dies

Maj. Gen. 'Bud' Lawson led responses during crises

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Gazette Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES — A long-serving former leader of the Iowa National Guard who guided the response to an airline crash in Sioux City, directed foreign deployments of Iowa soldiers and helped in times of disaster like Iowa’s 1993 flood and farm debt crisis has died.

Retired Maj. Gen. Warren G. “Bud” Lawson of Ankeny, Iowa’s 26th adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, died Wednesday at 83.

Lawson retired as adjutant general June 19, 1999, following more than 44 years of military service in the U.S. Army and Iowa National Guard — including 14 years as the Guard’s commander.

As adjutant general, he was responsible for the administration, training and operations of more than 9,500 Guard soldiers and airmen.

Gov. Terry Branstad issued a statement Friday expressing his sadness at Lawson’s passing.

“He was a patriotic and dynamic leader who set very high standards for readiness of our troops and I appreciate his dedication to our country and state,” the governor said.

Lawson guided the Iowa National Guard through the farm crisis in the 1980s, the response to the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 at the Sioux City Airport in 1989, Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm from 1990-1991, reactivation of the 34th Infantry Division in 1991, Iowa’s floods of 1993 and the Port Neal complex chemical plant explosion near Sioux City in 1994.

“Gen. Lawson was a truly outstanding soldier and mentor to thousands of men and women during his distinguished career in the U.S. Army and the Iowa National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, Iowa’s current adjutant general.

“He left an indelible mark on the Iowa National Guard and state of Iowa through his remarkable vision, intellect, integrity and commitment to excellence. We are a better state and nation in so many ways for his dedication and selfless service,”

Lawson was born Aug. 2, 1933, in Fairfield. He graduated from Fairfield High School in 1951, receiving his bachelor of science degree in commerce from the University of Iowa in 1955 and earned a master’s degree in industrial management from the University of Nebraska in 1966.

While at Iowa, Lawson played center for the Hawkeye football team from 1952-54 and was named Iowa’s Most Valuable Player in 1954.

His military education includes being a distinguished graduate of the School of Naval Command and Staff and admittance to the Army War College, according to a news release from the Iowa National Guard.

In 1967, he deployed to Vietnam, where he served with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade as assistant operations officer and personnel officer.

On June 30, 1979, he retired from active service and the next day was appointed deputy adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard.

Lawson is survived by his wife, Bobbie, and their daughter, Laurie. He was preceded in death by his son, Lance. Funeral arrangements are pending. Memorials may be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Iowa.

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