Former Adjutant General laid to rest in South Boston

Members of the Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Team carry Maj. Gen. Carroll Thackston's casket during his funeral Feb. 21, 2013, in South Boston. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Members of the Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Team carry Maj. Gen. Carroll Thackston’s casket during his funeral Feb. 21, 2013, in South Boston. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — Current and former members of the Virginia National Guard and senior state government officials joined family, friends and the community of South Boston Feb. 21, 2013, in paying final respects to retired Maj. Gen. Carroll Thackston as he was laid to rest at Oak Ridge Cemetery will full military honors. Thackston, the Adjutant General of Virginia from July 1994 to September 1998, passed away Feb. 17, 2013, at Lynchburg General Hospital at the age of 79. Former Gov. George Allen presented Thackston’s widow with a Virginia state flag, and Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, presented his widow and three sons with U. S. flags at the burial site. The Virginia National Guard’s Petersburg-based Funeral Honors Team provided the color guard, flag-folding detail, firing detail and bugler, and air crews from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment conducted a fly over with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

“The Commonwealth has lost a great Virginian,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “He was a highly respected and admired general officer, and he remained a strong supporter of men and women in uniform in his retirement. Personally, he provided a great deal of advice and support to me since I became the adjutant general. We will miss him, and our thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to his family.”

Thackston was adjutant general under then-Governor George Allen. “Appointing Maj. Gen. Carroll Thackston as Adjutant General of Virginia was one of the most important decisions I made as governor,” Allen said. “We made many visits to Soldiers serving overseas and seeing Virginia Guard troops in action during state emergency response operations, and I could always count on him to make sure the Guard was where we needed them to aide their fellow Virginians.”

Allen said that Thackston’s leadership in transitioning Virginia Guard operations to Fort Pickett in the late 1990s helped pave the way for the installation becoming the world-class military, public safety and civilian educational facility that it is today.

“General Thackston devoted his life to leading, protecting and serving Virginians in the Guard as well as in civilian life,” Allen said. “A truly great, loyal and devoted Virginia patriot has gone to heaven, but his legacy to the Virginia National Guard, Southside Virginia and the Virginia Military Institute live on. Susan and I send our heartfelt condolences to the whole Thackston family who also served Virginia through the years.”

Thackston served as an advisor to Governor Bob McDonnell during his transition when he became governor in 2010. “Our administration was fortunate to have been able to benefit from his counsel and wisdom during our transition to the governor’s office. Maj. Gen. Thackston offered his expertise to guide in the selection of the current Adjutant General, and helped ensure that the transition of Virginia’s National Guard command was seamless as a member of my transition team,” McDonnell said.

“With the passing of Maj. Gen. Carroll Thackston, Virginia has lost a true patriot and a dedicated public servant,” McDonnell said. “Virginia is blessed to have so many strong and dedicated public servants among its citizens, but some, such as Maj. Gen. Thackston, truly stand out. He demonstrated to us all that a career in public service and a dedication to one’s fellow man can make a lasting difference in the lives of all Virginians.”

Thackston graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and served in the Army Reserve in the first years of his military career. His first assignment with the Virginia National Guard was with the 1173rd Transportation Company where he served as detachment commander and company commander. He also served as the inspector general and commanded the 116th Support Battalion from November 1977 to March 1980.

From March 1983 to December 1986 he served as the state military personnel officer, then as chief of staff from December 1986 to September 1989. He was the assistant adjutant general from September 1989 to June 1993, and then served as the adjutant general from July 1994 to September 1998.

“I have a fond memory of Maj. Gen. Thackston visiting us along with Governor Allen in Bosnia in 1997 and promoting me to captain,” said Lt. Col. Michael Swanson, who was then serving in Detachment 1, 1st Battalion, 246th Field Artillery at the time and currently serves as the joint logistics officer for the Virginia National Guard. “He was well respected and loved by our field artillery Soldiers and did everything he could to support his Virginia Guardsmen in Bosnia and to get us home as soon as possible. He made sure we returned on time and that we transitioned back to civilian life as soon as possible.”

After he left the Virginia Guard, Thackston was very active in his community and served on the town council and as mayor of South Boston. He was elected mayor in 2004, and was serving his third term. He served on the boards of the Southfax Sertoma Club, the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, the Richmond and South Boston United Way, a member of the South Boston School Board, the Board of the South Boston-Halifax County Museum, YMCA and the VMI Board of Visitors. He was currently serving on the Halifax County Educational Foundation, the Virginia National Guard Foundation, The Foundation of the Higher Education Center, and the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region Board of Directors.

Thackston is survived by his wife of 53 years, Frances Anne LaNeave, son Michael and his fiancée Crystal, son Jonathan and his wife Ann Marie, and son Mark and his wife Erin, as well as four grandchildren, a sister-in-law, niece nephew and two great-nephews.

“My Dad was the hardest working man I have ever known,” said Maj. Mark Thackston, a JAG officer assigned to Fort Pickett. “He was humble, sincere, honest, and full of good, and he taught my brothers and me to treat all persons with respect and dignity. Over the past few weeks, I sat with my Dad and thought so many times how blessed I have been to have him as my dad. I also realized how many other lives he affected throughout our community and Commonwealth. I have been comforted by all of the loving comments from old friends and work companions. But the main thing that I want others to realize is that for all of dad’s accomplishments outside of our house, he was more accomplished as a dad and granddad. He kept his grandchildren laughing with his wit and humor. We all miss dad so much.”

He also expressed his appreciation for the support from the Virginia National Guard. “I also want to thank the entire National Guard family for the recent outpouring of support during dad’s illness and death,” he said. “The Guard family has always been a huge part of my life, as I have always had the camaraderie and friendship of Soldiers that I have known for my entire life.”

“The National Guard has been so supportive during Carroll’s illness and death, and we are so grateful for the love and respect shown to him,” said Frances Anne Thackston. “He always knew the Virginia Guard was the best. He and Gen. Castles worked so hard to lay the foundation to make the Guard what it is today. They devoted their lives to it.”

View photos from the memorial service and burial on Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157632828469673/

Life Legacy
http://www.powellfunerals.com/sitemaker/sites/Powell1/obit.cgi?user=906757Thackston

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Celebrating the life of Major General Carroll Thackston, USA (Ret.).

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 967
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+ful+HJ967

Offered February 18, 2013
Celebrating the life of Major General Carroll Thackston, USA (Ret.).
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Patrons– Edmunds; Senator: Ruff
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WHEREAS, Major General Carroll Thackston, USA (Ret.), the former Adjutant General of the Virginia National Guard and the mayor of the Town of South Boston, died on February 17, 2013; and

WHEREAS, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, Carroll Thackston enjoyed a distinguished military career, serving six years in the United States Army and 35 years in the Virginia National Guard; and

WHEREAS, Carroll Thackston began his illustrious career with the Virginia National Guard with the 1173rd Transportation Company, which he served as detachment commander and company commander; and

WHEREAS, Carroll Thackston rose through the ranks of the Virginia National Guard, serving as the inspector general, commander of the 116th Support Battalion, state military personnel officer, chief of staff, and assistant adjutant general; and

WHEREAS, in 1994, Governor George Allen appointed Major General Thackston Adjutant General of the Virginia National Guard, a position he held until 1998; and

WHEREAS, as Adjutant General, Major General Thackston provided strong leadership to the Virginia National Guard as its members valiantly served at home and abroad to ensure the security of the Commonwealth and the defense of the United States; and

WHEREAS, Major General Thackston provided encouraging words as he visited Virginia National Guard members engaged in state emergency response operations and stationed in such locations as Bosnia and Iraq; and

WHEREAS, Major General Thackston oversaw the transition of Virginia National Guard operations to Fort Pickett, the installation that today serves as a world-class military, public safety, and civilian educational facility; and

WHEREAS, after retiring from the Virginia National Guard, Major General Thackston continued to serve the public as a town council member and mayor of the Town of South Boston, where he worked diligently to ensure the efficient and effective operation of local government; and

WHEREAS, Carroll Thackston also once worked as a locomotive fireman and engineer with Norfolk and Western Railroad and manager of the Virginia Employment Commission in South Boston; he retired as the human resources manager at Daystrom Furniture; and

WHEREAS, a remarkable public servant, Major General Thackston will be remembered for his faithful service and greatly missed by many loving family members, friends, the residents of South Boston, members of the Virginia National Guard, and a grateful Commonwealth; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby note with great sadness the loss of a true patriot and dedicated public servant, Major General Carroll Thackston, USA (Ret.); and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the family of Major General Carroll Thackston, USA (Ret.), as an expression of the General Assembly’s respect for his memory.