Leader of MA National Guard to lead Air National Guard

BOSTON (WHDH) - A general who spent more than 20 years with the Massachusetts National Guard is taking on a new role.

Nominated by President Obama, he will now be leading the nation’s Air National Guard.

For the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, Leon Scott Rice said it was his mom’s influence that led him to a career in the military. A career where he said the sky’s the limit.

“My mother was in the military,” he said. “She was a lieutenant in the Army Nursing Corps in WWII and was deployed in Germany.”

Recently promoted to a three-star general, Rice has a new assignment.

“It’s called the DANG,” he said. “Director of Air National Guard. Pretty robust group 90 wings, 105,000 people.”

General Rice said the Air National Guard has far-reaching responsibilities.

Within the U.S. it is at the read 24/7 to respond to anything from securing restricted airspace, to thwarting a potential hijacking or terrorist threat.

“We have a number of our Air National Guardsmen sitting alert in their fighters at this very moment ready to launch at a moment’s notice to defend the skies of the U.S.,” he said.

Rice said the reach of the Air National Guard goes beyond the U.S. for some of our local airmen.

“The F15’s in the western part of the state recently tasked to deploye oversees for three months for the ERI — the European Reassurance Initiative,” he said. “To help our allies and assure them that Europe is very important to us.”

Rice said another important mission for the Air National Guard is protecting the homeland from cyber threats.

“One of the things, cyber, is growing,” he said. “We have a significant capability in the Guard and it’s only getting bigger.”

General Rice grew up in New Hampshire and spent more than two dozen years with the Massachusetts National Guard, providing support for first
responders during hurricanes, coastal floods, tornadoes and blizzards, and, most significantly, during the Boston Marathon bombing.

He said he moves on to his new assignment with mixed feelings.

“Bitter sweet,” he said. “Mixed emotions on one side, very exciting, on the other side, I’ve met a lot of good people. I’ll miss them.”

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