SC National Guard leader reflects on 30 years of service

(Photo: WIS-TV)
(Photo: WIS-TV)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - In five days, the state will swear in a new leader of the South Carolina National Guard.

Current Adjutant General Stan Spears is stepping down after four terms in office. He decided not to seek a fifth term. "After looking at my age, having to raise money again to run a campaign, I just decided I didn't have it in me," claimed Spears.

He spent 30 years with the group and led more than 10,000 guardsmen through several deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq - all the while supporting the fight in the war on terror. Spears credits the success of those missions to the strong guard families, who are left to wait back home. "Anytime a unit comes home, there's always a welcoming crowd there to thank them for the terrific job that they did," expressed Spears, "The sad part about it was I lost 13 people, six in combat, and I didn't get to shake their hand when they came home. I wish I could have done that."

With the Pentagon announcing cut backs to the federal military and the state guard's budget slashed in half, Spears says Adjutant General-Elect Bob Livingston has tough decisions to make. "Everybody in the state now knows what the biggest problem is going to be - it's money," stated Spears, "My budget has been cut from $8 million to $4 million, and Bob's going to have to live with that. He and I were talking this morning (Friday). It's going to be very difficult because we're going to have to cut some programs out and we're going to have to close some armories."

There's a leadership change ceremony set for Sunday afternoon at 2:00 at the Carolina Coliseum. Adjutant General-Elect Bob Livingston will be sworn-in Wednesday.

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