FORT STEWART, Ga. – Brig. Gen. Gen. Kevin J. Lambert is many things. A dogface soldier. A husband. A dad. A native of Alaska. With a few decades of military experience under his belt, he now feels a great sense of pride and connection with his Alaskan Native American roots, but it wasn’t always like this.
Lambert was born in 1971 in Fort Polk, Louisiana, the son of an Army infantryman. He quickly got used to moving from base to base, which gave him little time to take root.
“He’s the one who, when we moved to a new area and set up our quarters, would go down the street looking for someone to play with,” said his mother, Dr. Connie Lambert. “He was always sociable. He got along with other kids, introduced himself and found new people to play with from an early age.”
As a child, Lambert didn’t think much about his origins. That all changed in high school, when he started commercial fishing with family members in Metlakatla, Alaska. During those years, he immersed himself in the local Alaskan Native community and spent time playing basketball and hanging out with local kids.
“It was life on the reservation and lots of fun,” he said. “Basketball is the lifeblood of the community. Between that and commercial fishing, I could easily have stayed there for the rest of my life.”
A commercial fisherman, he remembers doing a lot of hard work for his grandfather, Wally Leask. His grandfather was a demanding boss and was quick to tell Lambert when he didn’t live up to expectations. As a teenager, Lambert was shocked to see Wally transition from grandfather to boss. However, his grandfather instilled in him the values of hard work and excellence. It wasn’t enough just to work hard, he had to improve and do his job well. If he can’t do that and deliver, he won’t get paid.
He worked on two different boats in Alaska: one for his grandfather and one for his cousin. Both were extraordinarily challenging. Although the pay was good, the hours were long and the work dangerous. He couldn’t leave work just because he was tired, and he said his grandfather didn’t give him special treatment. One story from that period catches Lambert’s eye.
“It was two or three in the morning,” Lambert recalls. “With rain coming from the side and waves hitting the stern of the boat, we had to quickly haul in the nets and move the boat inland to escape the weather. There was a large boat inland that could be used for weather shelter. It was a WWII boat that was anchored out there in the bay. We crashed into the boat trying to tie it off and my grandfather yelled at me as he tried to position his boat.”
Lambert and his grandfather got through the storm safely, but he said experiences like that night taught him how little he knew about the world. He expressed that he still draws on his experience on the boats when things get difficult in his military career.
Lambert’s military career began when he was commissioned as an infantry officer after graduating from the University of North Georgia in 1993. He began his career as a rifle platoon leader and company manager in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. He later served with the 75th Ranger Regiment before going on to the Infantry Captains Career Course. He then served with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and as an instructor and aide-de-camp at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
A graduate of the Command and General Staff College, he has served as a leader in numerous positions including battalion commander for the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment at Fort Riley, Kansas. He later commanded the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. In June 2019, he returned to Fort Riley to serve as the division’s chief of staff before coming here to Fort Stewart in 2021.
He is a graduate of the United States Army War College and his operational deployments include Haiti, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We’re very, very proud of him,” his mother said. “My husband has infected each of his ranks from second lieutenant. Each of them is a very proud moment for us in terms of their successful career in the Army.”
Lambert and his daughters are shareholders in Sealaska Corporation, an Alaska Native-owned company dedicated to empowering people, culture and Native American lands. His great-grandfather is Tsimpshian, a group of indigenous people from the Pacific Northwest coast. His great-grandmother is from the Haida tribe and part of his family still speaks the Haida language. However, unlike the rest of his family, speaking the native language was not always easy for his grandfather.
“When the missionaries came to Alaska, my father used to tell us stories,” she says. “He went to the playground and he and his friends spoke Haida and got beaten for it. So we do language and cultural recreation.”
Lambert traces his native Alaskans back through his mother’s side of the family. The youngest of five children, she met his father Larry Lambert in Anchorage, Alaska when she was in high school. They married in 1969 and have three children.
His mother eventually went back to school to earn her PhD and spent 20 years as a university professor, associate dean, and eventually dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies at Central Washington University.
Serving is a tradition in Lambert’s family. His grandfather served in the Army Air Corps and after retiring from the service became the mayor of Metlakatla. His grandfather and uncles served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
His father, a retired major, served in the army for 25 years and retired in 1992. He was promoted to officer in 1980 as part of a pilot program that placed high-performing senior NCOs directly into the officer corps.
It would be easy to assume from his family history that Lambert naturally also wanted to serve the nation. However, he wasn’t initially enthusiastic about the idea. He grew up dreaming of becoming a physical education teacher. However, due to the economy of the time, he kept an eye on the army.
Eventually, he followed his brother’s lead by applying to the University of North Georgia and enrolling in their ROTC program.
Now, thirty years later, Lambert is serving as the deputy commanding general of maneuver for the 3rd Infantry Division here at Fort Stewart. Throughout his military career, he has drawn on his childhood experiences in Alaska and credits his heritage with shaping him into the man he is today – someone who enjoys serving others and finding opportunities to give back to other soldiers. In his current role, Lambert has the ability to invest in 3rd ID’s warfighters and ensure they have the equipment and resources they need to fulfill the division’s important mission. Lambert plans to do whatever he can to help soldiers during his remaining time in the Army, but said he knew his career wouldn’t last forever.
“I want to be a soldier as long as possible because I have the rest of my life not to be in the army,” Lambert said. “There’s a lot less runway in front of me than behind me.”
|Date of recording:||11/23/2022|
|Release Date:||23.11.2022 16:18|
|Location:||FORT STEWART, GA, USA|
|Hometown:||METLAKATLA, AK, USA|
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