Dubie takes command of Vt. National Guard

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COLCHESTER, Vt. (AP) – The Vermont National Guard is continuing today a tradition of service and sacrifice that goes back hundreds of years, Adjutant Gen. Michael Dubie said Sunday during a change of command ceremony at Camp Johnson.

Dubie, an Air National Guard brigadier general, told the story of the events leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War when a Union general eager to get reinforcements into position for the battle that was the turning point of the war, gave a command that has become a slogan of pride for the state’s citizen soldiers: “Put the Vermonters ahead and keep the column well closed up.”

“I would argue around the world today we’re putting the Vermonters ahead and we’re keeping the column closed up,” Dubie said.

He then listed a number of the places Vermonters have fought and died since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, including Ramadi where about 400 Vermonters are fighting now one of the most dangerous places in Iraq.

Just the other day, Dubie said a top National Guard general singled out the Vermonters’ service in Ramadi in a teleconference of representatives of National Guard units from all the states and territories.

Dubie assumed command of the guard on Saturday when the resignation of now-retired Maj. Gen. Martha Rainville became effective. The Sunday change of command ceremony was the symbolic passing of the command flag from Rainville to Dubie.

Rainville led the guard for nine years. She is widely credited with modernizing the 4,000-members of the Vermont Air and Army National Guard and boosting the morale of the soldiers and airmen under her command. Rainville assumed command of the guard during peacetime, but she led the guard through the stateside callups following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and the overseas deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Rainville resigned to run for Congress.

She has become a familiar face to people across the state as she has announced each casualty in Iraq and Afghanistan and attended each of the funerals.

Sunday was Rainville’s last appearance before the guard as their commander.

“I step aside with a tremendous pride in each one of you,” Rainville said. “I have full confidence in the guard’s ability to continue to excel. You have taken my vision and surpassed it. I look at this formation and I see a warrior’s spirit tempered with the strength of compassion.”

Dubie has been in the National Guard since 1979 when he still a student at the University of Vermont. He was commissioned an Army officer in 1981, but later switched to the Air Guard and became a pilot.

Dubie has more than 2,000 of flying time in a number of military aircraft, including the F-16 fighter plane. In civilian life, Dubie was a commercial airline pilot.

Prior to being elected guard commander by the Legislature last month, Dubie was the assistant adjutant general for joint operations.

The change in command comes while several hundred Vermonters are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ten Vermont National Guard members have been killed in combat and an 11th died of natural causes overseas.

The most recent casualty came last week when John Thomas Stone of Tunbridge, who since his death was promoted to master sergeant, was killed in a firefight in Afghanistan.

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