NASHVILLE -- The man leading the Tennessee National Guard, who took his oath of office Saturday, is a former commander of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, including soldiers who left the Lewisburg Armory by motor coach late last month.
In a passing of the flag ceremony following his oath of office, Brig. Gen. Terry M. "Max" Haston succeeded Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr. as adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard. The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment is at Camp Shelby near Hattisburg, Miss., completing final training before deployment to Iraq.
"Max is ready for the job," Hargett said introducing his successor to hundreds of soldiers, elected officials, family and friends of the Guard in the drill hall on Sidco Drive.
Haston received a second round of sustained applause early in his acceptance remarks, after saying that his father, Gary, served 40 years in the Guard.
"He set the example," Haston said, adding he's also learned from soldiers "who taught me what right looks like and demanded it."
It wasn't all ceremonial and traditional during the event.
Speaking of the crowd before him, Haston said they "all wanted to be here to witness a miracle," that being him becoming the adjutant general over the "best" national guard, thereby proving that "Pigs really do fly."
In a reference to the sub-freezing temperatures that morning, Haston relayed a comrade's observation that the place in Nashville -- where the hard duty is war -- "...is froze over."
Applause followed again and Haston closed by saying, "Thanks, and I'll meet you on the high ground."
Soldiers replied: "Huah."
Gov. Phil Bredesen administered the oath of office for Haston and observed the ceremonial transfer of the flag, symbolizing the change of command.
Bredesen was introduced as the governor who led the state from financial crisis to stability without a tax increase, and a staunch supporter of the Guard that's relevant and ready.
The governor conceded that early in his administration he didn't know much about the Guard, he soon became aware of its significance because of terrorist attacks of 9-11.
Bredesen noted the state Guard has about 20,000 soldiers and that some 5,000 are deployed now, including those who've been deployed previously since the two fronts of war began in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bredesen "never asked me to do anything political," Hargett said in remarks leading to his introduction of Haston.
Hargett thanked Bredesen for his support that's led to modernization of the Guard and "levels of readiness unknown before."
Haston also thanked the elected leaders, noting Congressmen Jim Cooper and Zach Wamp were present.
"We can't do what we do with out you doing what you do," he said.