The leader of the Missouri National Guard, Adj. Gen. Levon Cumpton, of Wardsville, was promoted in rank Wednesday during a pinning ceremony in Gov. Mike Parson's Capitol office.
Cumpton was promoted from the rank of brigadier general to major general, as Parson and Cumpton's wife, Linda, upgraded his one-star shoulder insignia to two-star.
The captain narrating the ceremony told Cumpton that by the request of Parson, Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson — chief of the National Guard Bureau — "has reposed special trust and confidence in your patriotism, fidelity and abilities.
"In view of these qualities and your demonstrated potential for the increased responsibility, you are therefore authorized to wear the rank of major general for service in the Missouri National Guard."
Parson in July 2019 named Cumpton — then a colonel — as adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, making him the state's senior military officer.
Cumpton assumed his adjutant general duties in August 2019, and with every crisis that's affected the state since — chiefly, the COVID-19 pandemic — he has led thousands of National Guardsmen and Airmen in response.
Parson said Cumpton has "truly hit the ground running" leading one of the largest and longest mobilizations in the history of the Guard with the pandemic response, including commanding more than 1,000 soldiers and airmen in providing COVID-19 testing, setting up an alternative care site in the spring, operating call centers, distributing school meals and supporting food banks, and assisting in the return of state workers to their offices.
The Guard has also assisted during civil unrest this year.
"This is quite the accomplishment," Parson said of Cumpton's advancement.
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Reflecting on his own military service in the Army, Parson said: "Frankly, I wouldn't be in front of any of you today if it hadn't been for my service to this country, what it meant to wear that uniform that you men and women are wearing today. That was probably one of things, as I look back over my career that informed me as a person, at 19 years old, (and) as a man," understanding sacrifice and public service.
Cumpton said he was humbled to be promoted and thanked God and numerous people including Parson, Hokanson, and the soldiers and airmen he leads, as well as their families and employers.
At the Missouri National Guard, Cumpton said, "we train, fight, win, while taking care of each other as one team. As the adjutant general, there's nothing more important to me than my teammates. As our mantra implies, we are all in this together, and we will, in fact, fight and win for the people of Missouri and our nation — and we are stronger together."
He especially thanked his wife and family. His brother was also present, while his and Linda's children, Emily and Chance — both in the U.S. Army — watched remotely from Alaska and Georgia.
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Maj. Gen. Cumpton has more than 27 years of experience between active duty U.S. Army and National Guard service.
He is an Army Ranger and combat veteran — including Purple Heart and Bronze Star decorations — and he has served in five overseas deployments in Germany, Macedonia, Bosnia, Iraq and Kosovo, according to information from Parson's office.
The only Army ranks left above major general are the three-star lieutenant general, four-star general and five-star general of the army.