More than 3,000 Guardsmen, Governor in attendance
By Sgt. Rebekah Malone
Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
PINEVILLE, La. – Brig. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis assumed command as the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard during the largest formal ceremony in 14 years at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Dec. 10.
The ceremony marked the beginning of new leadership for the Guard and commemorated the retirement of Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau after 42 years of total military service. It included a 19-gun salute, the headquarters’ unit colors representing LANG’s major commands and their battalions, and flyovers from F-15 fighter jets, UH-60 Black Hawks and LUH-72 Lakotas.
Adjutants general in the National Guard, at the direction of the governor, lead all National Guard operational missions and training. In Louisiana, the head of the National Guard is appointed by the governor.
Governor Bobby Jindal, commander-in-chief of the LANG, attended the ceremony and told the Guardsmen he had the highest confidence in the ability of their new leader.
“Over the past four years, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with General Curtis, as he’s been at the center of every disaster response operation. I know he will carry on General Landreneau’s legacy of ensuring our Guardsmen always stand ready, but he will also bring his own leadership style to this post,” he said.
More than 3,000 Guardsmen stood on the parade field representing LANG’s 11,500 troops from all major commands and their battalions in the LANG. Colors from more than 20 units flew – a symbol of the very soul of the military unit under which a Guardsman trains and fights.
“The courage of the National Guard gives me and our entire state confidence that no matter the size of the challenge we face, we as Louisianans will always prevail,” said Jindal.
Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, also attended the ceremony and told Curtis he had the utmost belief in his leadership capability.
“I have every confidence in your abilities coming into this extremely important position. It’s often said … that officers are selected for positions of increased responsibility not for what they have done in the past, but rather for their future potential. And I know you have that great potential. I know … you will make your highest priority, the Soldiers, Airmen, family members and employers of the men and women of the Louisiana National Guard,” said Mckinley.
Curtis, a native of Buckeye, La., has nearly 30 years of military experience. In 1984, Curtis received his commission from LANG’s Official Candidate School as part of Class 24. His first assignment as platoon leader was for Company B, 527th Engineer Battalion in Marksville. He became commander of the 769th Engineer Battalion in Baton Rouge in 1990 and was named as the 225th Engineer Group commander, headquartered at Camp Beauregard in September 2001.
Curtis, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, thanked Landreneau for shaping him to become the top leader of the LANG.
“Thank you for your steadfast leadership, your tremendous vision and your loyal service. Your mentorship of me and so many like me will keep this organization strong for many years to come,” said Curtis.
He told the Guardsmen that as a leader, each area of their life is an important consideration to him: military, employment, moral and spiritual.
“I want you to know that you are the greatest Americans I know. My commitment to you is to provide consistent and fair leadership … I want to make sure that every facet of your life is a success,” he said.
Curtis gave credit to his wife of 26 years, the former Jill Juneau for being the foundation of his success. He is the father to three children: Meagan, 23, Nicholas, 19, and Jacob, 16.
“I know that as a Soldier, being appointed as the adjutant general is a big deal. But I can tell you, it’s only a small token compared to my three greatest accomplishments,” he said. “Those are my three kids.
“And for them being fine young people, I have to give most of the credit to their mother and my lovely wife, Jill.”
During the ceremony, Landreneau inspected the 3,000-member formation, known as trooping the line. This gave the Guardsmen the opportunity to view their former commander and served as his last opportunity to view the troops he led for 14 years. Landreneau retired as the longest, current serving adjutant general in the nation.
“The Louisiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are part of the finest National Guard in America. It is their dedication, professionalism, their commitment and their hard work that has made the Louisiana National Guard the finest National Guard in America,” he said.
“General Curtis is the right leader at the right time to lead the Louisiana National Guard into the future. He is an outstanding leader, and I know that under his leadership the Louisiana National Guard will excel,” said Landreneau.
Landreneau received the Distinguished Service Medal, for exceptionally meritorious service in positions of great responsibility. This is the highest non-valorous military and civilian decoration of the United States military.
“Today is a bittersweet day for all of us as we bid farewell to a man that has led the National Guard through so many challenges. For more than 4 decades, Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau has served the state and nation honorably as the leader of the Louisiana National Guard,” said Jindal. “I’ve been proud to call General Landreneau a hero and friend.”
Landreneau and his wife, the former Dolores Fontenot, reside in Alexandria and have four children and six grandchildren.
“Bennie, for 42 years you served the citizens of our great nation and the great state of Louisiana with honor, dedication and distinction,” said McKinley.
Also in attendance was Lt. Gen. William Ingram, director of the Army National Guard, and Brig. Gen. Dario Tapia, commander of the Belizean Defence Force.
The National Guard, the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States and one of the nation’s longest-enduring institutions, will celebrate its 375th birthday, Dec. 13, 2011. The National Guard continues its historic dual mission of providing to the states units trained and equipped to protect life and property, while providing to the nation units trained, equipped and ready to defend the United States and its interests, all over the globe.