Jarrard installed as head of Georgia Army National Guard

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Joe Jarrard, the new commander of the Georgia Army National Guard, pays tribute to his family during the installation ceremonies as Gov. Nathan Deal, who appointed him, listens.

By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard, part of a military family with Coweta roots, is the new commander of the Georgia Army National Guard. Jarrard, 44, was installed in the post -- also known as the deputy adjutant general -- in ceremonies Friday at Hangar 1 at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta. The Change of Command Ceremony installed both Jarrard in his post and Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth as adjutant general of Georgia.
The ceremony involved Butterworth, Jarrard and their predecessors -- along with Gov. Nathan Deal -- inspecting troops assembled in the hangar. There also was the passing of the colors ritual with Butterworth receiving a flag from Maj. Gen. William Nesbitt, the previous adjutant, and Jarrard accepting a flag from Maj. Gen. Maria Britt, the outgoing commander. An armament salute was offered, as well. Maj. John Alderman IV, public affairs officer for the Georgia Department of Defense, served as a master of ceremonies for the Change of Command -- introducing dignitaries, explaining protocol and moving the program forward. He said the music used to open the ceremony dates to 1874 and is a signal to soldiers that the adjutant is assembling the troops. "The passing of the colors," Alderman said, is "one of the oldest" American military traditions. Butterworth and Jarrard have known each other since they were boys. Butterworth recalled -- as an elementary school student -- being introduced by his grandmother "to the Jarrard twins," then known as Joey and Jamie. Butterworth said Jarrard, his father and brothers have forged "a military legacy to be proud of." The adjutant stated, "With Joe in this leadership position, I genuinely look forward to the challenges ahead." As flowers were presented to his mother, Nancy, Jarrard recalled that she saw her husband, Newnan native Tom Jarrard who died in 2007, leave home for a tour of duty in Vietnam. More recently, all three of Nancy Jarrard's sons have served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. "There is not a bigger patriot that I know," Jarrard said of his mother, who lives near Gainesville. He also spoke of the support of his wife, Susan, and their sons -- Ben, Will and Joseph. In his remarks, Deal said Butterworth and Jarrard are taking "responsibility for all the men and women" in the National Guard "as well as their families." The governor described Jarrard and Butterworth as "the best of the best," praising them for showing character and leadership. "We honor your service as well as the more than 14,000 men and women who wear the uniform -- and their families," Deal said. Jarrard talked about the deployment of more than 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops to such farflung locations as Kosovo, Iraq, Qatar and Guantanamo Bay. He noted one unit was scheduled to leave for overseas duty on Saturday "with others leaving before the end of the year." The work being done by those troops testifies to "truly exceptional effort by remarkable Georgians," the Dahlonega resident said. In their remarks, Jarrard and Butterworth reflected on the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the recent 10th anniversary of that event. "That was truly the day that changed America. It was also the day that changed the Georgia Army National Guard," Butterworth said. Members of the Georgia National Guard show "courage of the highest order," Deal said. He said their leaders "represent the very best ideals of our nation." "The citizen soldiers of this great institution -- you rise to the challenge every time," Britt said. Nesbitt also spoke of the 39 National Guard families who have lost someone in the current military conflicts. "Our nation is eternally in your debt, and will not default in that debt," he said. Britt led a moment of silence in memory of those 39 fallen guard members. Butterworth pledged to families of guard members that those citizen soldiers will be "trained, equipped and prepared" for whatever duty awaits them. "We will be there to serve with distinction, regardless of the threat," he promised. Deal said the National Guard today is expected to be prepared to fight terrorism at home and abroad and to to respond "when natural disaster strikes." Nesbitt said the Guard is better prepared than ever and that Georgia's guard members have showed their prowess "even in this time of perpetual conflict" and economic uncertainty. Jarrard's sister and brother-in-law, Amy and Jason Coffee, came from their home near Luthersville to the ceremonies with their children -- Patrick, Rebecca, Megan and Ava. Several cousins from Coweta County and Meriwether County attended, as well. The Georgia National Guard Band played prior to the ceremonies -- and played "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the event. In addition to Deal and his wife, Sandra, officials at the gathering included U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former Gov. Sonny Perdue and David Poythress, a former Georgia secretary of state and labor commissioner who has also been the adjutant general. The wives of Nesbitt, Butterworth and Jarrard and other family members of all four principals received flowers during the ceremonies. As yellow roses were presented to Susan Jarrard, Alderman said they symbolized the blossoming of relationships with "the soldiers and their families and the surrounding community." Deal presented the Oglethorpe Distinguished Service Medal to Britt, Nesbitt and Nesbitt's wife, Letha. Nesbitt, who has been in the military since 1973, is retiring. A reception for Butterworth, Jarrard and their families was held in the hangar prior to the ceremonies.


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