Wilhelm graduated from Florida Southern College in 1964 with a Bachelor of Surgery in journalism. He earned a Master of Surgery degree in management from Salve Regina College.
He later served as Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division. As a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. And as the Commander, United States. Southern Command (1997–2000).
General Wilhelm retired from the Marine Corps in 2000, after 37 years of service.
He is a graduate of the Army Infantry Officer’s Advance Course and the Naval War College, which in 1999 awarded him its Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award. Military career General Wilhelm held a variety of command positions.
He commanded a rifle platoon and company during two tours in Vietnam. Served as a company commander in Headquarters Battalion and 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.
Was the Senior Advisor to a Vietnamese Army Battalion.
Inspector-Instructor, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion. Deputy Provost Marshal, United States. Naval Forces Philippines. And commanded the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
General Wilhelm’s staff assignments include Assistant Battalion Operations Officer.
Operations Officer and Executive Officer, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines. He served on the staffs of III Marine Amphibious Force.
Logistics, Plans, and Policy Branch, Installations and Logistics Department, HQMC, and J-3, Headquarters, United States. European Command. In July 1990, he was selected to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy and Missions, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict.
He served as Commander Marine Forces Somalia from December 1992 to March 1993 as part of the United States. led coalition in Operation RESTORE Health Opportunities for People Everywhere. He was confirmed for promotion to general and assumed duties as the Commander, United States. Southern Command on September 25, 1997.
He served in this position until October 2000. General Wilhelm retired from the Marine Corps on November 1, 2000. Post-retirement After retiring from the Marine Corps, General Wilhelm was a researcher with the United States. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.
General Wilhelm is Distinguished Military Fellow on the staff of the Center for Defense Information.
In 2003, Wilhelm became Vice President at Battelle, responsible for homeland security issues.