LINCOLN — The command of the Nebraska National Guard changed hands Sunday with the symbolic passing of a flag from Gov. Dave Heineman to the new adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac.
The ceremony took place before more than 300 members of the Nebraska National Guard and members of the public at the Guard's base in Lincoln.
As adjutant general, Bohac will lead the 4,600-plus Air and Army personnel in the Nebraska National Guard.
“I have to confess, when the governor called me to say I would be the next adjutant general, I did a little fist pump,” Bohac said. “I'm humbled by this. It's going to be an amazing experience.”
Heineman, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who served five years in the Army, said he weighed the selection of Bohac carefully.
“It's a very important responsibility to lead the Nebraska National Guard,” Heineman said. “... I took this decision very seriously.”
In addition to his role with the Guard, Bohac will be a member of the governor's Cabinet and director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.
That agency “is critical to what we do, because (it) helps us get out there and be able to respond to help with the health, safety and welfare of our citizens,” Bohac said.
Bohac succeeds Maj. Gen. Judd Lyons, who held the position for almost four years before being promoted in May to deputy director of the Army National Guard. He will assist the director of the Army National Guard with programs and policies and its more than 350,000 personnel. He will be assigned to National Guard headquarters in Arlington, Va., this summer.
As the United States downsizes its deployed forces, Lyons said, he wants to ensure that Guard members remain ready for public safety operations and potential conflicts.
He wants Guard members to feel valuable, even though they won't be deployed as often. One way to do that is through challenging and stimulating exercises and drills, he said.
“We want our soldiers and airmen to be tired in a safe way,” Lyons said. “We want them to feel like they're going nonstop and are making significant steps forward.”
Bohac plans to pursue similar goals for Nebraska, but his first challenge will be selecting the Guard leaders with whom he will work.
That part of his job is important, Lyons said, because Bohac must depend on the people below him to relay information and implement his policies.
“Gen. Bohac will spend some time communicating his vision with where he wants to see the Nebraska National Guard go in the future and show that to the people responsible for implementing that in the future,” Lyons said.
Bohac has 31 years of service in the Nebraska National Guard. He most recently served as the assistant adjutant general.
It was that position, given to him by Lyons, that helped him prepare the most for his new role as adjutant general, Bohac said.
“When Gen. Lyons gave me the opportunity to serve as his deputy three years ago, he was giving me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of this job. (Preparation to be adjutant general) really started three years ago. We just didn't know it was going to happen today.”
Bohac will be paid $101,522 annually, the same salary that Lyons would have received.
At the end of his speech Sunday, Bohac gave his first order as adjutant general: Carry on as the Guard did under Lyons, ready for whatever comes from the enemy or a disaster.
“All general orders remain in effect,” he said.