Story by Sgt. Brad Mincey
EASTOVER, S.C. — U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr. relinquished command of the South Carolina Military Department to U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Van McCarty during a change of command ceremony, Feb. 16, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover.
The ceremony recognized Livingston as the last popularly elected adjutant general in the U.S. and welcomed McCarty as the first appointed adjutant general for South Carolina.
Friends, family members, Soldiers, Airmen, State Guard members, state and federal government officials, and students from the Youth ChalleNGe Academy filled the hangar while music was provided by the 246th Army Band from the South Carolina National Guard and singers from Southern Wesleyan University
“Changes of command are always significant events,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. “The people of our state have fought for the people of South Carolina and the people of this country. They have fought, suffered and triumphed. I am thrilled to be a part of this state.”
One of the traditions conducted during a change of command ceremony is the passing of the colors from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander. McMaster received the colors from Livingston, signifying his relinquishment of command. McMaster then passed the colors to McCarty, signifying his assumption of command as the 29th adjutant general of South Carolina.
Looking out over the assembled crowd, McMaster stated what made this state great, is its faith and military.
“Thank you generals for making this the home of the free,” he added.
Once McMaster finished his remarks, Livingston stepped to the podium and thanked family members, service members, and others who supported him throughout his military career.
“All of you have been invited to this event because you have been a part of our lives and part of the history of the great National Guard,” said Livingston. “I did a little quick math, and if I spent about 30 seconds thanking each of you, five hours later I would be talking to an empty hangar. So what I thought I would do is spend a little bit of time reflecting on what we have done together.”
Livingston discussed successful wartime missions, as well as stateside missions during state emergencies and natural disasters, and “Team S.C.,” a collaboration between the South Carolina National Guard and South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
Livingston joined the South Carolina National Guard in March 1978, and was commissioned through the Palmetto Military Academy, Officer Candidate School. He served as Task Force 218th Commander from June 2004 to January 2005 and Joint Task Force Phoenix commander from May 2007 to April 2008. More recently, Livingston served as The Adjutant General of South Carolina since January 2011. After 41 years of service in the South Carolina National Guard, Livingston will retire from the U.S. Army in March 2019. He has been married to his wife, Barbara, for 42 years and they have four children. He is also the President and CEO of Gregory Electric, located in Columbia, South Carolina.
Once his remarks were completed, for his years of dedication and service, Livingston was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation by U.S. Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau. He was also awarded the South Carolina Guardsman Retirement Medal by McMaster and, to his surprise, the Palmetto Cross by incoming commander McCarty.
For the past five years, McCarty has served as the deputy adjutant general for South Carolina. Now, he assumes command as the first appointed adjutant general for South Carolina.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be appointed by Governor McMaster to serve as the adjutant general of the great state of South Carolina,” said McCarty. “I pledge to you and the state of South Carolina that I will do my all each and every day to make the military department of South Carolina an extraordinary organization.”
McCarty went on to state, thanks to the efforts of Livingston as adjutant general, there is a firm foundation that he can continue to build upon.
McCarty attended The Citadel, and graduated in 1982 with a Reserve commission in the Field Artillery. He served in command of units from batteries to brigades. His first command was Alpha Battery, 4th Battalion 178th Field Artillery. He also served as Regional Police Advisory Commander for Operation Enduring Freedom and Commander of the 59th Troop Command, as well as additional commands. He and his wife, Susan, have been married for 36 years and have five children.
The ceremony concluded with a benediction given by retired Chaplain (Col.) Steven Stugart and a trooping of the line of the assembled troops before the playing of the Air Force and Army songs.