It’s been several weeks of saying goodbye to Soldiers, colleagues, and military friends, including a salute on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives May 19. On Saturday evening, May 30, Major General R. Martin Umbarger, Indiana’s Top Soldier. will say his final and formal goodbyes at a dinner in Indianapolis hosted by Gov. Mike Pence.
Yesterday, while speaking at a Memorial Day service at the Washington Park East Cemetery in Indianapolis, Gen. Umbarger surprised the crowd by saying he “never thought he would even make private” after he enlisted in the Indiana National Guard in 1969. The surprise was on him in 2004 when then Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan appointed him to the State’s top military post. He has since been reappointed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels and current Gov. Mike Pence.
As the Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Umbarger’s primary focus was “to lead the Indiana Army and Air National Guard, the Indiana Guard Reserve and state employees.” He was Indiana’s top military officer for more than 15,000 employees. He saw his National Guard Soldiers through several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and was the Consoler-in-Chief when many of those Soldiers didn’t come home.
In 2012, a roadside bomb took the lives of four Indiana National Guard Soldiers from Valparaiso. All four were combat engineers of the 713th Engineer Company, clearing a supply route in Afghanistan. A fifth Soldier was severely injured in the blast. Maj. General Umbarger was there for the families of his fallen Soldiers. His remarks yesterday no doubt reflected on that tragedy.
“To think of those that have given the ultimate sacrifice and their families to be here on Memorial Day, to recognize them in uniform is just a special feeling.”
General Umbarger’s last full day of service is May 31, but at yesterday’s ceremony he commented,
“I want to try to continue to serve in any way I can to support those who wore the uniform and those who wear the uniform.”
More on Maj. General Umbarger’s career here.
Examiner’s Note: Ret. Indiana National Guard Soldier Staff Sgt. Justin Bednar worked tirelessly for more than four years for approval of his Purple Heart, and for the Purple Heart awards of his comrades. Bednar was injured by a vehicle borne chlorine bomb in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2007. Due his efforts and those of Maj. General Umbarger on behalf of the injured Soldiers , Bednar received the Purple Heart at a ceremony in 2011. (Pictured, far right)