Florida National Guard welcomes new adjutant general

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. William Buchanan
  • 125th Fighter Wing

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. James O. Eifert took command of the Florida National Guard during a change of command ceremony at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, April 6, 2019.

Eifert accepted the position from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun, who is retiring after 36 years of dedicated service. 

“I would like to thank all of our Soldiers and Airmen in formation today, from the lowest ranking to the highest,” Calhoun said. “I have been in your boots, I know what you are faced with, and I appreciate you.

It has been my distinct honor to serve with you and to work for you.”

During the ceremony, Calhoun surrendered the Florida National Guard flag to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as part of the traditional passing of the colors. This symbolized Calhoun's resignation from his position as the adjutant general. DeSantis then passed the colors on to Eifert, signifying his acceptance of the new position and assumption of command.

“I take very seriously the sacred trust of command that you have bestowed upon me, and I commit myself fully to the continued care and readiness of our great Florida Guard Soldiers and Airmen,” Eifert said.

The passing of the colors from Calhoun to Eifert is a visible display of the continuity of command for all members of the unit to see. Historically, the colors of a unit were kept at the commander’s side and carried forward into battle, even if the commander fell in combat.

This change of command ceremony was conducted to render honors to service members, inspire esprit de corps and to preserve the traditions that have been practiced since the founding of this nation. Along with the passing of the colors, these traditions included music played by the 13th Army Band, a 19-gun salute and the inspection of troops.

During his speech, DeSantis lauded Calhoun for his superb leadership during the challenging years under his command. 

“During our citizens’ darkest hours of hurricane response and recovery operations, General Calhoun led these great Soldiers and Airmen to protect and safeguard lives and provide much needed security,” DeSantis Said. “Under General Calhoun’s leadership, our citizens knew that when the National Guard arrived on scene––whether that was to distribute life-saving water, food, supplies, clearing roads, helping with emergency shelters––that they were going to be taken care of.”

DeSantis also welcomed Eifert in his new role as the adjutant general of Florida.

“Major General Eifert and his wife Beth have my full confidence and support as he assumes command today,” DeSantis said. “I look forward to working with him as lead a modernized, ready and relevant Florida National Guard as we move into the future.”

The adjutant general of Florida is the senior military advisor to the governor and serves as a director of the Florida Department of Military Affairs. He is responsible for the training and operations of the FLNG, composed of nearly 12,000 Soldiers and Airmen who deploy to combat zones around the world and protect their communities from natural disasters.

Addressing all the Soldiers and Airmen now under his command, Eifert expressed pride in his new position. 

“Looking out at the Soldiers and Airmen in this formation, I am struck by the profound nature of who we are and what we do,” Eifert said. “You have been a great force for good, and our state and nation are better because of you. That is who you are. 

You should be proud of yourselves, as I am proud to be one of you. And I sincerely look forward to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you in service to our state and nation.”