Friday, June 25, 2010

St. Augustine Record: Thanks, Gen. Burnett

One month before 9/11, 2001, then-Brig. Gen. Douglass Burnett was appointed adjutant general for the state of Florida by Gov. Jeb Bush. On Nov. 3 that year Bush officially transferred the office to Burnett from Maj. General Ron Harrison.

Burnett, later appointed a major general was the first Florida Air National Guard member to lead the Florida National Guard. He came up through the ranks of the Air National Guard including service as assistant adjutant general for air under Harrison.

Throughout Burnett's nine years in the top job, he has directed the largest mobilization of the Florida National Guard since World War II. He has overseen the departure of citizen soldiers, sometimes 2,000 at a time, to the Middle East war zone since November 2002. The Guard's presence in the war has frequently had at least 1,000 of its 12,000 members on active duty at any time serving in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Guard troops are still on active duty in that region as Burnett transfers his office on Saturday to Maj. General Emmett R. "Buddy" Titshaw, Jr, a former assistant adjutant general for air under Burnett. We welcome Titshaw back from Washington, D.C., and the Air National Guard Bureau where he was special assistant to the director, Air National Guard and Air National Guard advisor to the chief of staff, United States Air Force.

Burnett turns over a seasoned complement of Guard members to Titshaw. More than 80 percent have seen combat duty for at least one tour in the Iraq war. The war isn't over yet, but Burnett knows the mission, having observed Florida troops first hand several times.

He also has had to ensure the Guard's readiness at home for a potential hurricane or other disasters. For example, the Florida Guard has members on duty today related to the BP oil spill.

Those missions are on top of Burnett's job as director of the state Department of Military Affairs under Gov. Charlie Crist. Burnett knows his way around the Florida Legislature and Congress, too. Among his credits are securing funding for a major overhaul of most of the state's armories and for upgraded equipment, especially fighter jets, for the Air Guard, from state and federal resources.

Last October, Crist came to St. Augustine to heap praise on Burnett and to thank the Guard for its readiness for missions here and abroad. Of Burnett, he said, he is "a unique man, a good friend and an amazing leader. He never wavers. Did you know he is a barefoot water skier?"

In addition to his 47 years of military service, Burnett also has been active in the Florida Council of 100. The CEOs invited to join this group have a major stake in improving the quality of life and the economic well being of Floridians.

We thank Major Gen. Douglass Burnett for his wide-ranging service.

We welcome Major Gen. Emmett R. "Buddy" Titshaw Jr. He knows how big Burnett's shoes are that he has to fill.

Transfer of Office

The transfer of office ceremony will be held at Camp Blanding near Starke at 10 a.m. Saturday. The public is invited.

No comments: