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Louisiana welcomes new adjutant general, first combat infantry leader in 54 years

By Spc. Duncan Foote, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office

PINEVILLE, La. – Brig. Gen. Thomas C. Friloux officially assumed command as the adjutant general of Louisiana during a formal ceremony at the Louisiana National Guard Training Center Pineville, Mar. 10.

The ceremony marked the beginning of new leadership for the LANG and paid tribute to Maj. Gen. Keith Waddell’s achievements after four years as adjutant general and more than 33 years of military service. It included a 19-gun salute, the headquarters’ unit colors representing LANG’s major commands and their battalions, and a flyover from F-15 fighter jets.

Adjutants general in the National Guard, at the direction of the governor, lead all National Guard operational missions and training. The head of the National Guard in each state is appointed by the state’s governor.

Governor Jeff Landry, commander-in-chief of the LANG, attended the ceremony and praised the Guardsmen standing in formation. “To the Soldiers and Airmen on the field, you represent the best Louisiana has to offer,” he said.

More than 600 Guardsmen, representing the LANG’s major commands and their battalions, stood in formation on the parade field. Colors from over 20 units were proudly flown, symbolizing the unique identity of each military unit where Guardsmen receive training and engage in combat.

“I look forward to serving with you. One team, one Louisiana,” said Landry.

Friloux, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and only the second Purple Heart recipient to serve as a Louisiana adjutant general, thanked Waddell.

“General Waddell, thank you for your mentorship and everything you’ve done for the Louisiana National Guard,” said Friloux. “I wish you and Lisa the best life has to offer.”

He told the Guardsmen that as a leader, his number one priority is the needs and best interests of the Soldiers and Airmen.

Friloux is the first infantry officer appointed as adjutant general since 1997, when Maj. Gen. Ansel Stroud retired, and is the first combat infantryman to serve in this position in 54 years.

Landry noted that the LANG has a long history of being led by infantry officers, many of whom were WWI and WWII combat veterans. Appointed on January 8, Friloux joins their esteemed ranks.

Friloux, a resident of New Orleans, has nearly 36 years of military experience. In 1992, Friloux received his commission as an infantry officer from the Officer Candidate School. His previous assignments include company commander of A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment; A and B Company, 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment; battalion operations officer of 3-156th Infantry. He also held positions as executive officer to the 3-156th Infantry, operations officer of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and battalion commander of 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment. After leaving command, Friloux went on to hold the positions of joint director of plans for the LANG, joint director of operations for the LANG, director of the joint staff for the LANG and dual-status commander of Joint Task Force Louisiana.

“To the Soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard, thank you for your unwavering commitment to the defense and security of the State of Louisiana and the United States of America. I am truly blessed to serve alongside you in this organization,” he said.

During the ceremony, Waddell inspected the 600-member formation, a tradition known as “trooping the line.” This allowed the Guardsmen to see their former commander and served as his final opportunity to view the troops he led for four years.

“Please know that I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work so closely and to serve with every one of you,” he said. “This team’s response services and contributions to State emergencies and federal deployments over the past four years makes me proud every day, and in my opinion, we certainly have the best National Guard in the country,” said Waddell.

For his service, Waddell received the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service in positions of great responsibility. This is the highest non-valorous military and civilian decoration of the United States military.

Also in attendance were Rear Admiral John Borland, Belize Chief of Defence and Brigadier General Azariel Loria, Belize Defence Force Commanding General. Belize has been Louisiana’s partner in the State Partnership Program for 28 years.

The National Guard, the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States and one of the Nation’s longest-enduring institutions, celebrated its 387th birthday on Dec. 13, 2023. The National Guard continues its historic dual mission of providing trained and ready units to support both state and federal operations.

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