Va. Guard’s South Boston readiness center dedicated to former AG

Members of Maj. Gen. Carrol Thackston's family unveil the plaque dedicating the South Boston readiness center in his name during a ceremony held July 13, 2013. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Members of Maj. Gen. Carrol Thackston’s family unveil the plaque dedicating the South Boston readiness center in his name during a ceremony held July 13, 2013. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard dedicated the South Boston readiness center to the memory of the late Maj. Gen. Carroll Thackston, former Adjutant General of Virginia, during a ceremony held July 13, 2013. 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. He served as the mayor of South Boston from 2004 until his passing. Former Governor George Allen, Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker, Virginia Senator Frank Ruff, former delegate and retired judge Frank Slayton and Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, joined the Thackston family, Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen and members of the South Boston community in remembering Thackston’s dedicated service to community, commonwealth and country.

“It is a pleasure to be here to honor General Thackston,” Allen said. “He is the embodiment of the Citizen Soldier in so many ways. He was a great patriot, great American, great Virginian, and to me, a true friend. In this readiness center, his spirit lives on.”

Allen appointed Thackston to served as adjutant general early in his term as governor, and he 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.

“We hope that you will be inspired by his character, serving in an admirable way, being resourceful in every way and always being ready to serve,” Allen said. “He served honorable and showed integrity in everything he did, and he was always ready to assist and help others.”

“When you look for the definition of Virginia gentleman, when you look for the definition of a leader, it’s Carrol Thackston,” Decker said. “No one could have a greater love for the National Guard than he did, and this readiness center will stand well after we all leave public service, and it will stand as a reminder of what he stood for.”

Gov. Bob McDonnell approved the renaming of the readiness center in honor of Thackston March 20, 2013.

“It is very fitting that we dedicate the South Boston readiness center in the name of Maj. Gen. Carroll Thackston,” said McDonnell in a statement before the ceremony took place. “Not only did he provide outstanding leadership to the U. S. Army and Virginia National Guard during more than 40 years in uniform, but he continued to serve his community with honor and integrity on the South Boston City Council and as mayor. 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.”

Allen gave special recognition to the Thackston family during his remarks.

“The whole Thackston family, and anyone who serves in the Armed Services, Active, Guard or Reserves, knows that it is not just the Soldier, Airmen, Sailor or Marine, but the whole family who serves,” Allen said. “We thank the whole Thackston family for their service.”

Maj. Mark Thackston, a member of the Virginia Guard, spoke on behalf of the family.

“I want to get this right and let everyone know how much we are sincerely humbled and appreciate all the efforts and the love,” he said. “We miss Pop, but the loss we feel is more manageable because of the love and support we have received. We are so thankful for all of you.”

He said that his father taught him, his brothers and others to work hard, work honest and treat people with respect, no matter who they are.

“If he was here, he would take the time to shake everyone’s hand and thank them for what they have done,” he said. “He was not just a great Pop and a great leader and provider for his family, he was just a great guy.”

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.

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.

Ruff presented a framed copy of House Joint Resolution No. 967 to be on display inside the newly-named Maj. Gen. Carrol Thackston Readiness Center. The text of the resolution is copied below.

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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.

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