story by Alexis Ann
If you’re a regular reader of the Resident, you know that I served in the Montana Army National Guard. My commander, Adjutant General John “Jim” Womack, whom with great reverence, we called, “The Old Man”, was a leader of the people. He paid attention to his family…his troops, in all ranks. The Old Man didn’t care if you wore a star or if you were a private. He cared that you were part of his Army and he wanted to know “all was well” with you and how he could help make your life better. The General knew what was going on with his 3500 troops and even with me when I was attending Officer’s Basic Training at Fort McClellan, Alabama….
I was having a rough time transitioning from grad school to officer’s training, having had no prior military experience. Just the climate change from the Big Sky Country to the humid South was effort enough for me. It wasn’t until years later that I found out why my extra duties lightened up… from latrine duty to bulletin board duty. The General made a call from Montana and spoke with the Captain, my commanding officer. He was checking on how Montana’s lieutenant was doing.
My buddy Jack Walsh, born and raised in Butte was working in the copper mines, following in his father’s footsteps but his dream was to train to become a Montana State Trooper. The Old Man got wind of this and made a call on Jack’s behalf and that call turned into Colonel Walsh and later General Womack’s Chief of Staff.
These two examples are no different than what he did for any of his soldiers…or “Tigers”, as he called us.
That big booming voice that called out to so many on the streets of Dillon, MT, was silenced on 11-11-11. The General lead his last command on Veterans Day, after suffering a severe stroke on Sunday, Nov. 6.
John “Jim” Womack was born in Ennis, MT, on September 26, 1920 to Frances and Emmett Womack. He was a 1938 graduate of Ennis High School and earned his degree from Montana State Normal College in 1947. He was awarded a Master’s Degree in Education in 1955.
Jim met Vivian Marie Love and they were married in November 1942. There were four boys born to this union. Vivian and Jim lost their two middle sons. Jon D passed away in 1970 with a brain tumor. Joe, founder of the Dillonite Daily, died in 2000 from complications of Type 1 diabetes.
Jim enlisted in the US Army in April of 1942. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1945 at Fort Bennington, Ga. He joined the Montana National Guard in May of 1949. He served as a company and battalion commander.
In 1969, Col. Womack was appointed to the office of the adjutant general of the Montana National Guard. He was promoted to the rank of major general and held that office until his retirement in January of 1981.
Jim had a variety of business interests in Montana including founding the Dillon Cable TV System, Carter Creek Mining Company, Pacific Mining, Minerals Engineering and many other enterprises with his long time partners and close friends Carl Davis and John Erb. Many remember him as their teacher and many others remember him as principal Womack.
His hobbies include going to garage and estate sales. He was an avid collector of books on western history. He co-founded the Western Historical Library with Steve Hamilton in Three Forks, MT, with over 14,000 volumes at present time.
The General leaves behind his wife of 69 years who he lovingly called “Little Grammie,” his sons Jim and Jack (wife Kathy), daughter-in-law Brenda Womack and adopted daughter Juanita Browne, grandchildren Jon, Dillon, Jennifer, Jeff, Carson, Kylie, Alexa and Wyatt, two great-grandchildren, along with many other nieces, nephews, cousins and many, many special family and friends.
I was honored to serve under General Womack’s command as a lieutenant in the Montana Army National Guard. I will miss HIM. SALUTE.
Memorials may be made to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) 26 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, New York 10004 or www.jdrf.org, Beaverhead Humane Society, Dillon Food Pantry or a memorial of the donor’s choice. A guestbook is available on-line at www.brundagefuneralhome.com