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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday, July 25, 2019, that Col. Levon Cumpton. at podium, would be the new adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard. Cumpton's appointment will take effect Aug. 2, 2019, when Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner retires. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

A Wardsville man will become the new head of the Missouri National Guard.

Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday announced Col. Levon Cumpton as the next adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, which is the state's senior military officer.

He'll replace current Adjutant General Steve Danner, who is retiring after serving in the position since 2009. Danner will be recognized in a formal change of command ceremony later this year.

Cumpton's appointment will take effect Aug. 2.

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"For more than 26 years, Col. Cumpton has served our state and our country with honor," Parson said during a news conference. "It is important to our administration that Missouri's leaders communicate and work together to achieve the best outcomes, and Col. Cumpton embraces these principles."

Parson said Cumpton would also work to increase recruitment in the National Guard.

"We started the process of looking for a new leader several months ago knowing that Gen. Danner would be leaving due to his reaching federal mandatory retirement age," Parson said. "We needed to get someone ready to go to work, and I told him (Cumpton) we were going to implement this as soon as we can — and he told me, 'Sir, whatever you ask me to do I'll do.'"

Cumpton has more than 26 years of U.S. Army active duty and full-time National Guard service. A Ranger and combat veteran, decorated with the Combat Action Badge, a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal, he is also a veteran of numerous National Guard activations supporting civil authorities in times of emergency and disaster in Missouri.

"The guard has a dual mission to take care of the state and federal issues when called upon," Cumpton said. "We will take care of what the governor and citizens need."

Through his service as the CENTCOM operations officer for the National Guard Bureau, Cumpton gained understanding of Washington operations, intelligence and planning.

He has five assignments abroad spanning more than four years in Germany, Macedonia, Bosnia, Iraq and Kosovo. Within the United States and Missouri, he commanded at every level from company to brigade and served in key staff positions at other times in his career.

"Our biggest challenge is to maintain our competitive edge, and to do that we have to train, fight and win every day," Cumpton said.

As a resident graduate of the U.S. Air Force War College, he earned a master's degree and the credentials to help him lead the Air Force component of the Missouri National Guard.

Cumpton grew up on a farm in Bates County and currently lives in Wardsville with his wife, Linda. Their two children, Emily and Chance, both serve in the U.S. Army.

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