Brig. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, a 1966 Sturgis High School graduate, now has, perhaps one of the longest commutes of any Black Hills resident. The former assistant adjutant general for the South Dakota National Guard will spend the next two years traveling between Rapid City and Arlington, Va.
On April 3, Carpenter became the special assistant to the director of the Army National Guard. He is in charge of recruiting and retention nationwide.
He could receive his second star and become a major general in his new position.
Carpenter said that when the National Guard, along with the other branches of the armed forces, reorganized several years ago, the headquarters in Arlington did, too.
"They increased the number of general officers to help handle the workload and extra demands of the Army. This is one of those positions," Carpenter said.
South Dakota normally leads the nation in recruiting and retention of Guard members, and Carpenter said that might have helped him get the position.
Carpenter, who enlisted in the Guard in 1967, also spent four years of active duty in the U.S. Navy as a Vietnamese linguist and has had several assignments at the Pentagon. Currently, he is also the deputy commanding general for the National Guard at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., a position he will keep until November.
"I do have mixed feelings about leaving here," Carpenter said. As the assistant adjutant general for the state of South Dakota, Carpenter works for Maj. Gen. Michael Gorman, a fellow '66 Sturgis High School graduate.
"In the years that I've been in the service, I've learned that discipline and standards are important," Carpenter said. Carpenter said that his tour of duty in Vietnam and visits to countries such as Afghanistan, Kosovo and South Korea taught him how much Americans have and how much they take that for granted.
Carpenter also has spent time in Italy, Germany, Japan, Panama and several other countries.
He said the important issues for the Guard are the same as for the active duty side of the military - force structure and getting a budget for the modernization of the military.
"On average, our Guard units have only 34 percent of the equipment they need. A lot of it was left in Iraq," Carpenter said.
Carpenter said he has to spend a minimum of 139 days at Guard Bureau headquarters, "but that will probably be more like 200 days" each year.
"I'll probably retire after this assignment," Carpenter said. He said his wife, Mary, a 1969 Sturgis High School graduate, want to move back to Sturgis.