Gen. Frank Grass, an Arnold native and long time Missouri National Guard Citizen-Soldier, became the 27th chief of the National Guard Bureau in a recent Pentagon ceremony.
Grass enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard in October 1969. He attended the Missouri Army National Guard Military Academy Officer Candidate School and was commissioned in the Engineer Corps in 1981. He has served in a variety of command and staff positions as a traditional National Guard soldier, in the Active Guard and Reserve program and on active duty.
As chief of the National Guard Bureau, Grass serves as a military adviser to the president, the secretary of defense and the National Security Council and is the Department of Defense's official channel of communication to the governors and adjutants general in all 54 states and territories on all matters pertaining to the National Guard.
“I’m very excited about the future; there’s hard work to do,” Grass said. “To the men and women of the National Guard: You’re the most professional, most well-trained and experienced National Guard our nation has ever had. I pledge that I will work every day to serve and support you so that we can continue to be a ready, accessible and essential operational force for our states as well as our nation.”
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta hosted the change of responsibility ceremony in the Pentagon Auditorium.
“I know our Citizen-Warriors will be in good hands,” Panetta said. “Today, we entrust General Grass with a national treasure – a force that has been transformed from a strategic reserve to an essential part of the operational military and whose ranks are now filled with skilled combat veterans.”
Grass relieved Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley as the chief of the National Guard Bureau. Grass also received his fourth star during the ceremony.
“I am confident that General Grass will be a strong advocate for the National Guard’s most valuable asset – its soldiers, its airmen and their families,” Panetta said. “The reason we are the greatest military power on earth lies not in our weapons, lies not in our planes or our ships or our advanced technology, as great as they all are: The strength of our military lies in our people.”
He is the second chief to also serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. McKinley was the first and also the first four-star officer in the National Guard’s more than 375-year history.
“The chiefs and I welcome General Frank Grass and his wife Patricia to the team,” said Army Gen.Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “This is the right man for the job – a thinker, a learner and one of the most experienced leaders in our military today. He knows what it means to put service before self and to put people first. And he knows what it will take to overcome the challenges of tomorrow – and those challenges are not going to be easy. It’s because of leaders like you and the soldiers and airmen of the National Guard that we remain the world’s pre-eminent military force,” he said.
Grass is responsible for ensuring that more than half a million Army and Air National Guard personnel are accessible, capable and ready to protect the homeland and to provide combat resources to the Army and the Air Force.
The change of responsibility ceremony welcomed Grass – and honored McKinley for his service as the 26th Chief of the National Guard Bureau.
About 40 members of Grass’ family were present, including his wife Patricia. The couple has five children and seven grandchildren. Grass, who graduated from Fox Senior High School, is the son of the late Arthur and Duella Grass who were born in St. Genevieve and lived in Arnold.
At the end of the ceremony, before heading across the Pentagon Courtyard to his new office, the second four-star general in National Guard history and its new 27th chief quoted a fellow Guard member – President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
This article was submitted by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill, of the National Guard Bureau. The Defense Department also contributed.