William Rex Wilson enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard in April 1940, and entered Federal service five months later as a private in the Service Company, 179th Infantry. Soon afterward he was serving that unit as a squad leader. He participated in four amphibious landings and eight campaigns in Sicily, Italy, France and Germany until May 1945, and was honorably discharged as corporal. He re-enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard in 1947 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps in 1949 and entered Federal service for the Korean War. He served in Japan and Korea, including participation in two Korean War campaigns.
Following the war, he returned to the Oklahoma National Guard where he became the assistant division quartermaster, finance officer and eventually the U.S. property and fiscal officer for Oklahoma. He was employed as an Army National Guard technician from 1948 to 1965. Ultimately he was promoted to brigadier general in the National Guard and assigned as the Assistant Adjutant General of Oklahoma. Going far beyond his assigned military duties, Wilson has been for almost two decades the mainstay volunteer of the 45th Infantry Division Association, serving as its national president, editor of its publication, and its volunteer, unpaid executive secretary. In this position he played the major leadership role in bringing large numbers of Thunderbird veterans to Oklahoma for their annual reunion, and in bringing about considerable financial support to the 45th Infantry Division Museum through the Association.
Thanks to Brig. Gen. Wilson's devoted efforts, the 45th Infantry Division Association is one of the largest such veterans groups in the Nation and the 45th Museum is recognized as the nation's best National Guard Museum.