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Armory dedicated in Thackston’s honor

South Boston News
SoVaNow.com / July 15, 2013
Family and friends of the late Carroll Thackston celebrated the naming of the Virginia National Guard armory in his honor Saturday morning in a ceremony that drew a contingent of civilian and military leaders to South Boston.

Among those who turned out to pay their respects to Maj. Gen. Thackston, former Adjutant General of Virginia and South Boston mayor, were National Guard colleagues including current Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., as well as Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker and former Gov. George Allen, who appointed Thackston to the National Guard leadership post almost 20 years ago.

Thackston, who died Feb. 17, at the age of 79, served as Adjutant General from July 1994 to September 1998. He became mayor of South Boston in 2004 and served until his passing.

Saturday’s program featured the unveiling of a plaque in Thackston’s honor and remarks by Allen, Long and other hailing him as a patriot and a true public servant. Also speaking was Mark Thackston, his son, who expressed thanks on behalf of the family for the honor of having the Armory dedicated in Maj. Gen. Thackston’s name.

“It has meant so much, particularly for my mother,” said Mark Thackston of the dedication. “It is quite a tribute in his honor.” Thackston, in remarks at the event, recalled the day after his father died, when a retired National Guard officer reached out to console the family: “Whoever said nice guys finished last didn’t know General Thackston.”

“Dad was a hard working, honest guy who succeeded because he cared about people,” said Thackston, himself a National Guard reservist. “He didn’t care about titles and he just wanted to help people.”

Added Thackston: “It’s so cool that when I go to work or go by the Y, I’m going by an armory named in his honor … it’s just overwhelming.”

The dedication of the Virginia National Guard readiness center in South Boston, announced Thursday afternoon, brought forth praise from Gov. Bob McDonnell: “It is very fitting that we dedicate the South Boston readiness center in the name of Maj. Gen. Carroll Thackston,” said McDonnell. “Not only did he provide outstanding leadership to the U. S. Army and Virginia National Guard during more than 40 years in uniform, but he continued to serve his community with honor and integrity on the South Boston City Council and as mayor.

“He demonstrated to us all that a career in public service and a dedication to one’s fellow man can make a lasting difference in the lives of all Virginians,” said McDonnell, who sent Decker to represent his administration at the event.

McDonnell approved the renaming of the readiness center in honor of Thackston on March 20 of this year.

Allen praised Thackston’s leadership in transitioning Virginia Guard operations to Fort Pickett in the late 1990s. Allen said the move helped pave the way for the installation to become the world-class military, public safety and civilian educational facility that it is today.

“General Thackston devoted his life to leading, protecting and serving Virginians in the Guard as well as in civilian life,” Allen said at the time of Thackston’s passing. “A truly great, loyal and devoted Virginia patriot has gone to heaven, but his legacy to the Virginia National Guard, Southside Virginia and the Virginia Military Institute live on.”

Thackston graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and served in the Army Reserve in the first years of his military career. His first assignment with the Virginia National Guard was with the 1173rd Transportation Company where he served as detachment commander and company commander. He also served as the inspector general and commanded the 116th Support Battalion from November 1977 to March 1980.

From March 1983 to December 1986 he served as the state military personnel officer, then as chief of staff from December 1986 to September 1989. He was the assistant adjutant general from September 1989 to June 1993, and then served as the adjutant general from July 1994 to September 1998.

After leaving the Virginia Guard, Thackston was active in the community and served on the town council and as mayor of South Boston. He was elected mayor in 2004, and was serving his third term. He served on the boards of the Southfax Sertoma Club, the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, the Richmond and South Boston United Way, a member of the South Boston School Board, the Board of the South Boston-Halifax County Museum, YMCA and the VMI Board of Visitors. At the time of his death, he was serving on the Halifax County Educational Foundation, the Virginia National Guard Foundation, The Foundation of the Higher Education Center, and the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region Board of Directors.

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