HELENA – The Montana Army National Guard conducted a change of command ceremony on Saturday at Fort Harrison in Helena.
Brigadier General Robert Sparing relinquished command to Colonel Donald Emerson in front of military personnel, congressional representatives, and friends and family.
“Colonel Emerson brings an outstanding experience level with him. He’s a top-notch professional officer and he’ll do an outstanding job,” General Sparing said.
Colonel Donald Emerson worked for General Sparing in many different positions throughout his military career.
“It’s been great serving with General Sparing,” Emerson said. “Twenty-five years ago when I was a platoon leader, he was a company commander. I can’t thank him enough for his service and all the sacrifices he’s made.”
General Sparing enlisted in the Guard in 1975. He rose to the enlisted rank of Staff Sergeant. In 1984, he was selected as the honor graduate from the Montana Military Academy and received a commission as a Second Lieutenant.
Saturday’s ceremony helped commemorate his 43 years of service to the country, state, United States Army, and the Guard.
Colonel Emerson’s wife and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Andy Emerson said she is always proud of her husband, but Saturday was special.
“I’m very proud of him. He has worked very hard. I know that his heart goes out to the soldiers,” she said. “He thinks of soldiers first and I think that’s the main thing for a leader, somebody who cares about their soldiers and has their best interest.”
Colonel Emerson joined the Montana Army National Guard in 1987 and was commissioned through the University of Montana’s ROTC program in 1989. He was currently assigned as the Guard’s Chief of Staff.
Prior to his assignment at the MTNG Joint Force Headquarters, Colonel Emerson commanded the 1889th Regional Support Group in Butte providing command and control of four subordinate battalions and all line companies across Montana.
Colonel Emerson has 30 years of military service.
He said he intends to continue to provide support to subordinate commands, the brigades, and the battalions so they can accomplish their mission to achieve the required necessary readiness aim points.