COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina Military Department will change leadership on February 16, 2019, and close the chapter for the last popularly elected adjutant general in the nation, South Carolina's Adjutant General, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr.

With the passing of legislation in 2014 supported by Livingston, the South Carolina governor now appoints this cabinet position and the South Carolina Senate confirms the nominee. Livingston has served as the adjutant general since 2011 and will be retiring after more than 40 years of military service.

"When I look at my career and being a Citizen-Soldier, I often go back to my time supporting after Hurricane Hugo," said Livingston. The close partnerships and sense of teamwork during that event between the South Carolina National Guard and other agencies to help our fellow citizens always stayed with me."

Livingston first enlisted in 1978, serving as a traditional Guard Soldier and then attended the Palmetto Military Academy, earning a commission as an Infantry Lieutenant in 1980. Among many assignments and leadership roles, from May 2007-April 2008, he commanded Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VI in Afghanistan, where he was responsible for the training and mentoring of Afghan National Security Forces.

As the adjutant general, he led the state responses for the South Carolina Military Department and Emergency Management Division during multiple ice storms, the devastating South Carolina flood of 2015, the Pinnacle Mountain wildfire, as well as Hurricanes Matthew in 2016, Irma in 2017, and Florence in 2018.

"When looking at the success of our state responses, the relationships we have with the local governments and non-governmental entities are at a level far above the norm with our coordination, predictive analysis and messaging," said Livingston. "The people of South Carolina respond to that because it creates a high level of trust."

Livingston said that after he leaves his position as adjutant general, he hopes that the items important to him during his tenure will continue. These include the tradition of excellence, care for service members and their families, and the spirit of Team South Carolina.

"My wife Barbara has been with me since I joined the National Guard. We were married when I was in college," said Livingston. She's been with me all the way and her steadfast love and support for our families and for our service members has been incredible."

In 2016, Livingston was presented the highest state award, the Order of the Palmetto, by former Gov. Nikki Haley, for his contributions and service to the people of South Carolina. Livingston said he first answered the call to public service as a volunteer firefighter and that even though his time in the military is coming to a close, he feels strongly about wanting to continue service in other capacities.

"We have an incredible team in South Carolina and I am so proud of the men and women who are serving our state and nation," said Livingston. "It has been a true honor and privilege to serve with so many great people."

After retirement, Livingston will resume his full-time position as President, Chief Executive Officer and Owner of Gregory Electric, incorporated and headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina.

"I am a traditional Guardsman like so many of the other 12,000 South Carolina National Guard members," said Livingston. "I'll be back to my business with other great patriots who always stepped in when I was called to duty."