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    Two Roxboro leaders, one vision



    Courtesy Story

    382nd Public Affairs Detachment

    CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – With a population of 8,000 people, Roxboro, North Carolina is known for its small-town feel, beautiful landscape and wildlife recreation.

    However, after the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte, it should also be known as the hometown of the two Army leaders who commanded the joint task force supporting the RNC – safeguarding the lives and property of local citizens and visitors to the state.

    Army Maj. Gen. James Ernst served as the Dual Status Commander of Joint Task Force – Republican National Convention (JTF-RNC) alongside the Senior Enlisted Leader of the JTF-RNC, Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Garner. The Roxboro natives lead North Carolina National Guardsmen, Active Duty Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Department of Defense civilians leading up to the convention, Oct. 24.

    For both Soldiers, joining the Army was a dream come true and a fulfillment of a family legacy.

    “As the son of a North Carolina Guardsman and Army veteran, I always had the desire to follow in my father’s footsteps and serve my country, state and community,” Garner said. “My high school teachers were very supportive of my desire to serve, and I left for the Army two weeks after graduating from Person Senior High School.”

    Garner also has two brothers that served in the Army and one brother currently serving his community as a local law enforcement officer, continuing their family’s tradition of service. Garner’s grandfather served in the Navy during World War II, and his father retired from the Army after 27 years.

    Ernst’s story is similar. He admired his father’s Army career and was inspired to join the military.

    “I wanted to join the Army to see the world, for the adventure and the chance to do something different,” Ernst said. “I always wanted to be a Soldier; I grew up in a military family.”

    Ernst’s father retired from the Army after 22 years of service and believes his father’s career as a noncommissioned officer prepared him for the Army, instilling many of the values of military service while he was growing up.

    “I was active in sports in high school,” said Ernst. “Sports provided me lessons in the value of teamwork and shared goals all very valuable to my military career.”

    Ernst also attended Person Senior High School before attending North Carolina State University, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

    Both leaders originally served on active duty – with Garner stationed in Germany and Ernst stationed at Fort Bragg – but the idea of community brought them back home and into the North Carolina Army National Guard.

    “I was compelled to switch because I liked the idea of being able to be in the military, have a civilian career and be a permanent part of the community,” Ernst said. “I liked the idea of serving both locally and overseas, and the National Guard gave me the option to do that.”

    After three years of active Army, Garner did the same and moved back to North Carolina to settle down and raise a family.

    “My father was an active member of the NCNG in Roxboro, so the transition to the Guard was an easy one,” Garner said. “I understood what I had to offer the Guard and also what the Guard had to offer me.”

    The Guard allowed both leaders to excel in multiple careers. Ernst also serves as Deputy Adjutant General for the NCNG – the principal advisor to The Adjutant General of North Carolina for plans and policies affecting the NCNG. In his civilian career, he is the Director of Construction at Bunnell Lammons Engineering in Greenville, South Carolina.

    He attributes his career success to empowering subordinates and allowing them to be successful in their missions. He said his best leadership advice is “to be yourself, be confident and treat everyone with respect.”

    With a very busy career, Ernst values any chance he gets to spend with his family and appreciates their support of his 38-year career. Garner agrees that although serving in the military is rewarding, there have been many sacrifices in the past 27 years he has served.

    “My family has supported me every step of the way both here, at home and when I have been deployed abroad,” Garner said. “A lot of missed occasions, but my family always stood by and allowed me to serve.”

    Garner received his Master of Arts in Teaching from Western Carolina University and duly serves as a Special Education Teacher at Tuscola High School and has been for 17 years. He advocates for his students and advises them to always apply themselves to the fullest no matter the mission or task. He learned this value growing up, which helped him navigate through his career and co-leading the JTF-RNC.

    “It was a very unique situation to have the dual-status commander and senior enlisted leader of the JTF-RNC come from a small, rural county and town in North Carolina,” Garner said.

    Roxboro may be small, but the values, leadership and support given to these NCNG leaders was huge.



    Date Taken: 09.18.2020
    Date Posted: 10.16.2020 09:52
    Story ID: 379461

    Web Views: 8
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