Florida National Guard welcomes the new adjutant general

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. William James Buchanan
  • 125th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
STARKE, Fla. -- Soldiers and Airmen from all over the state stood with the sun shining on their shoulders, defying the heat with nothing but a slight breeze to take the edge off. With the light of summer blazing down on Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, these servicemembers remained steadfast that morning with flags flying high.

Honored guests were ushered into shaded stands with reservation signs and hand fans to assist in their comfort. While the air was moving only just enough to cool the skin, it was enough to extend the stripes and raise the flag of the United States to attention, which seemed appropriate for the occasion.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw assumed command as the adjutant general of the Florida National Guard Saturday, June 26.

"I want you to know that I take seriously the sacred trust of command, and I will work long and hard for you and your families," Titshaw said.

Titshaw's predecessor, Air Force Maj. Gen. Douglas Burnett, relinquished command during a change-of-command ceremony at 10 a.m. in front of servicemembers, senators, state representatives, civilians and retirees. Burnett was retiring after serving for more than 47 years in the military. During the ceremony, he spoke about his service and, more specifically, what his time in command meant to him.

"As I stand before you today, I'm humbled," Burnett said. "I'm honored. Thank you."

Burnett surrendered the Joint Force Headquarters Flag to Jeff Kottkamp, lieutenant governor of Florida, as part of the traditional passing of the colors. This symbolized Burnett's resignation from his position as the adjutant general. Kottkamp then passed the colors on to Titshaw, signifying his acceptance of the new position and his assuming command.

"The colors have traditionally been at the commander's side and were carried forward even when the commander fell in combat," said Army Maj. Joseph D. Lietz, master of ceremonies for the change of command. "All others in the organization might perish, but the colors live forever."

Following the passing of the colors, members of the official party each offered remarks. Titshaw gave an acceptance speech robust with ideals of duty and service that expressed his notions of what being a member and a leader in the National Guard truly means.

"We guardsman derive our satisfaction not from material rewards, but from a sense of duty and commitment to our fellow countrymen," Titshaw said. "We give ourselves and to each other the personal fulfillment of devoting our lives to a noble cause of preserving this nation."
Lietz said the change-of-command ceremony was conducted to render honors to servicemembers, inspire esprit de corps, and to preserve the traditions that have been practiced since the founding of this nation.

These traditions included music played by the 13th Army band, a 19-gun salute and the inspection of troops.

During this inspection, the lieutenant governor, the retiring adjutant general and the adjutant general select mounted a Humvee from the rear, stood in back as if riding a chariot and toured in front and behind the five brigades and one flight of servicemembers representing the Soldiers and Airmen of the Florida National Guard.

According to legend, inspections such as this began with Alexander the Great, Lietz said. Commanders of old would perform inspections such as this to evaluate soldiers' fitness to perform their missions.

After the troops had been inspected and the colors had been passed, Burnett officially retired. The band played and the audience sung along to the Air Force and Army songs, and the new adjutant general was welcomed in.

"Before we leave here today, let me say with great conviction that I believe that serving in the Guard is both a noble and difficult calling," Titshaw said. "Like you on the field before us today, I am in the National Guard because I believe in what we do, and because I can think of no higher calling than standing shoulder to shoulder with you in service of our nation and state."