HIANG says aloha to TAG
By Tech. Sgt. Betty J. Squatrito-Martin and Tech. Sgt. Michelle Thomas, 154th Wing
/ Published November 16, 2010
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, HI -- During a farewell ceremony on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 6, Hawaii Air and Army National Guard celebrated the nearly eight years of service Hawaii's adjutant general has given to the state of Hawaii.
Maj. Gen. Robert G. F. Lee, adjutant general Hawaii, bid a fond farewell to over 800 Airmen and Soldiers by thanking them and their families for their effort and sacrifice during his tenure.
The hour-long farewell ceremony also served as the forum for Gov. Linda Lingle's and General Lee's final inspection of the men and women of the Hawaii Air and Army National Guard. Prior to the leaders' last troop review, the National Guard's 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery honored Gov. Lingle and Gen. Lee with a 19-gun salute.
As the sound of the 19-gun salute faded in the morning air, Gov. Lingle and Maj. Gen. Lee, along with Gen. Craig T. McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief, mounted a HumVee and took a quick trip around the flight line to inspect the more than 800 Guardsmen who were in formation.
"This Hawaii National Guard, I believe, in an objective analysis, is the best in the United States of America without comparison because they're family," said Gov. Lingle as she addressed the crowd following the troop review.
In addition to the praise bestowed on the Guard members, Gov. Lingle spoke of her decision to hire Maj.Gen. Lee for the position of adjutant general. During the initial interview, he didn't just talk about military concerns in a narrow sense, said Lingle. Rather, he spoke about Hawaii's place in the military world on a global, worldwide, integrated scale.
As fate would have it, Maj. Gen. Lee saw the Hawaii National Guard used on that global scale he spoke of during his first interview with Gov. Lingle. During his tenure, Gen. Lee has seen the deployments of the men and women of the Army and Air National Guard not only for state disasters like Ka Loko and the Kiholo Bay earthquake, but for National operations like Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Hawaii Guardsmen have seen time in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Haiti and other parts of the world since 2003 when Hawaii Air and Army Guardsmen were first mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"In spite of the call up for the wars, the Army is over 100 percent strength, the Hawaii Army National Guard, and the Air National Guard are nearly at 100 percent manning, so hats off to our young citizens in our state for answering the call to serve their community and their country," said Maj. Gen. Lee.
In addition to Gov. Lingle, the National Guard's top leader was on hand to speak about Maj. Gen. Lee's input over the past several years.
"I consider the adjutant general, the Board of Directors for me. And I consider his advice and his counsel to be very important as I try and make the decisions in Washington, D.C. that will affect all of our national guard men and women," said Gen. McKinley.
That advice began on Jan. 1, 2003 when General Lee was appointed as the adjutant general, for the state of Hawaii. As the adjutant general, he served as the director of a diverse organization that encompasses both the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard; the State Civil Defense; the State's Office of Veterans Services; and the Youth Challenge Academy, a residential mentorship program for at-risk youth. If that wasn't enough, he acts as the Governor's advisor on Homeland Security issues.
Not only is Maj. Gen. Lee's tenure as adjutant general coming to a close, so too is his entire military career. His career began on May 23, 1971 when he earned his commission via the Army's ROTC program. Prior to his appointment as the adjutant general, General Lee served as the Commanding General, 9th Regional Support Command, United States Army Reserve. Now he says good-bye to his role as adjutant general, and good bye to his role as Soldier. After 39 years of service to the state and to the nation, General Lee bids aloha.