CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Marietta, Ga., Sept. 30, 2011 – More than 700 members of the Georgia military community and various civilian dignitaries – including Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle – were in attendance as Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth became the Georgia National Guard’s 41st Adjutant General at a change of command ceremony held at this installation’s main hangar.
Butterworth, a former state senator who Deal appointed earlier in the month to replace the retiring Maj. Gen. William T. Nesbitt, accepted the mantle of leadership from the Nesbitt, who had served four years as the top commander the Georgia Department of Defense. This event also marked a “changing of the guard” for the Georgia Army National Guard, when Maj. Gen. Maria L. Britt, also retiring, passed on the job of Army Guard commander to Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard, who had previously retired from active Army service.
With all eyes and ears on him, Butterworth thanked Gov. Deal for his “faith and trust, and for this opportunity to lead the great men and women of the Georgia National Guard.”
Turning his attention to his predecessor, he said, “This is a great day for you and Mrs. Nesbitt. Today we honor your four decades of service to our nation, from your brief time as an enlisted Soldier, to your senior leadership of the Georgia Guard. Again, thank you for your service.”
Butterworth then congratulated Britt on her long and storied military career as a Soldier and senior leader, and for her service to Georgia and to the nation.
As he acknowledge the sacrifices and selfless service that have been – and continued to be – made by the Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen who comprise the Georgia Guard’s ranks, the State Defense Force, and their families, Butterworth made clear his intentions toward them in the coming months.
“My primary goal is to serve you, as I begin my tenure as your adjutant general,” he said, scanning the formation of Soldiers, Airmen and State Defense Force volunteers that stood before him. “Going forward, my role will be to ensure that we are mentally, physically and logistically prepared to carry out any and all missions we are asked to fulfill.”
Butterworth went on to commit himself to ensuring the Georgia Guard’s ability to “win on every front.” That, he said, will “be the mark of leadership” he will put on the organization.
With more than 40 years as a Soldier coming to an end, Nesbitt, too, thanked Deal for his confidence in him, and for allowing him to carry over from Gov. Sonny Perdue’s administration and serve as adjutant general during Deal’s first year as governor.
To those with whom he served – both in uniform and out – he said, “I have told you many times, an adjutant general cannot will the organization to success. The best I could hope to do, especially in [an organization] as large as ours, was to set the standards for success; and you have met that success against all odds.”
The Guard he leaves today, Nesbitt said, “is a well-equipped, well-trained and well-led force whose membership reflects the demographics of Georgia, and a diversity that extends into the ranks of its General Officers.”
He ended, saying, “General Butterworth, I pass on the mantle of a great organization comprised of some of the greatest people on earth. Take care of them, as I know you will.”
Stepping down as Army Guard commander, Britt encouraged not just the Soldiers who served under her, but every Airman and State Defense Force volunteer serving the Georgia to take their service seriously and remain committed to the history, traditions and ideology that serve those who wear the uniform and to better themselves in order to better the organization.
“As I bring my own service to a close, I do so on the remarks of General Robert E. Lee, Commander of Confederate forces during the War between the States: ‘Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, and you should never wish to do less.’ I have done my duty and I have never wanted to do more,” Britt concluded.
Jarrard would later thank Britt for her assistance with his transition into the Army Guard commander’s position and more importantly, he said, for Britt’s service to the Guard, which “has seen significant improvement under her leadership.”
“As I begin as their new commander, I look forward to leading the men and women of the Georgia Army Guard to even greater heights,” Jarrard said. “You truly amaze me by your continued selfless service.”
For additional high-resolution photos of the ceremony, click here.
To see the buzz posted to Twitter live during the ceremony, check out #NewGaTAG.
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Roy Henry
Public Affairs Office
Georgia Department of Defense
(Photos for this story were provided by photographers from the Georgia Army and Air National Guard and the Georgia State Defense Force)
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