The 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC), South Carolina National Guard, announced the promotion of Army Brig. Gen. Frank M. Rice to major general.
In attendance were U.S. Army Maj. Gen. R. Van McCarty, adjutant general of South Carolina, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Timothy Sherriff, 263rd AAMDC outgoing commander, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Jones, deputy adjutant general for South Carolina, U.S. Army Col. (promotable) Richard A. Wholey Jr., 263rd AAMDC chief of staff, and many other active and retired , distinguished South Carolina National Guard service men and women.
Also in attendance were his wife, Skippy; son, Sam Rice; and his son’s girlfriend, Leanne Pundt; his stepfather, retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kenneth Buck; brother, John Rice; cousins, Cathy Tharin and Rebecca Harper; brother and sister-in-law Jennie and Bill Cameron; and mother and father-in-law Michael and Olivia Cantrell.
“Seeing the folks that are here really gives us a historic day for the state of South Carolina and for the Air Defense community,” McCarty said. “We are a busy organization, and I look out and see the participation in these types of events. I realize the importance of what our service men and women do each and every day. It takes a lot to get to where he (Rice) is today.
“Reflecting on it, I do not think any of us can say it is about the promotion. I do not think any of us would say it is about putting on the bird, or putting on the leaf, the wreath or the star. It goes more to the why we serve. It is the opportunity to continue to lead and to have the opportunity to affect the organization that we are a part of. It is an opportunity to Soldier with friends in which you have invested a lot of your life with for a common goal.”
McCarty shared with the crowd his confidence in Rice and his ability to keep moving forward as a leader
“There is a world out there that is very challenging, but I am confident that the men and women of the 263rd AAMDC, along with their subordinate commands, are collectively up to the challenge. So as we promote Frank here today…he is being promoted for what this great Army believes that he still has in him to lead at a higher level, influence at a higher level, and achieve at a higher level,” added McCarty.
“There is no greater call than we collectively as leaders have the charge of providing leadership for our soldiers and airmen and to their families that will give them the belief and the hope that they can execute their mission wherever and whenever they need to and to do it successfully so they can come home.
“That is a huge charge and we know the reality of that, but as we promote Frank here today, we are promoting him with the belief that he is capable and will execute that charge to the highest of standards to ensure that this AAMDC is prepared for this challenge. It is a great day, it is an enjoyable day and I am proud to be part of it.”
Upon the conclusion of McCarty speaking, Rice shared with the crowd a story of what and who persuaded him to get into the National Guard.
“At the time, Staff Sgt. Joe Topper (retired) came out to the baseball field in March of 1982. It was a quiet time at practice and he (Topper) asked me what I am doing this summer. I said doing things around the farm,” Rice said. “Topper asked, ‘Hey, you want to shoot a rifle?’ I said, ‘How much it is going to cost me?’ He said we would pay you.”
Rice added that was 39 years ago, April 26, 1982, and it has been a fun ride since.
“Every position I have gotten, I have learned from people that came before me that knew better. There are those that give you lessons on how not to do things, but also those who give you lessons on how to do things right. These are the lessons that we take forward in life,” Rice said.
Rice thanked special guests for what they have done for him and what they have meant to him.
“Thank you to Jeff Jones for helping me get through the Palmetto Military Academy, the late Jeff Ashley for teaching me how to be a battalion commander, Greg Bates for teaching me more than I can say right now, Sgt. Maj. Terry Bennett for teaching me what to look for in a (personnel officer), Mike McKinney for teaching me signal, Foster McClain for teaching me how to take care of soldiers, and I cannot tell you everyone else that has helped me out,” Rice said. ”But I am truly standing on the shoulders of great men and women that came before me. People that touched my life and shared their knowledge. I hope I have made you proud.”
Toward the end of the ceremony, Rice presented his wife a token of appreciation.