By Capt. Bryant Wine
The Georgia National Guard honored five retirees during a retirement ceremony, Dec. 12, 2020, at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Georgia. U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Konata Crumbly, director of the joint staff, presided over the event.
The Georgia National Guard presented the retirement ceremony virtually on Facebook Live in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“It is always great to celebrate American heroes,” said Crumbly. “That’s what you have with these five individuals here.”
The five retirees honored at the ceremony include: U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Dryden, Capt. Michael Lewis, Sergeant 1st Class Linda Williams, Staff Sgt. Reginald Cobb and Sgt. Steven Dillard.
All five honorees each retire with at least 20 years of service. In recognition of their service, all five retirees received an award, certificate of retirement and an American flag. Spouses of the retirees also received the Georgia Commendation Medal in recognition of their loyalty to their spouse.
Traditionally held quarterly, the coronavirus pandemic response effort took priority to the Georgia National Guard and delayed the ceremony throughout 2020. In keeping with mitigation and safety guidelines, the Georgia National Guard did not want to host large gathering comprised of populations most vulnerable to the disease.
However, the Georgia National Guard adapted to the COVID-19 risk by instilling new preventative safety measures and utilizing new technologies, like Facebook Live. The social media platform enabled the Georgia National Guard to host a small gathering of retirees and their immediate families while spectators view virtually in the confines of their homes and workspaces.
People remain a key strategic priority to the Georgia National Guard and to Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, The Adjutant General of Georgia. Soldiers, Airmen, civilian workers, Family, retirees and veterans are the most important element of the Georgia National Guard. Growing, developing and retaining the force remained key objectives to Carden and the Georgia National Guard, even during the organization’s monumental response to COVID-19.
The virtual joint retirement ceremony is one of many ways for the Georgia National Guard to safely recognize and honor its people. Measures such as mask wearing, physical distancing and projecting the ceremony virtually ensured the safety of participants and viewers alike. Recognizing the five Soldiers allows the Georgia National Guard to honor these people as they transition from service member to retiree.
“This is an awesome occasion,” said Crumbly. “I have the privilege to honor America’s warriors and people that have served our country.”