Florida Air National Guard welcomes new commander, promotes general

Written by  //  November 30, 2012  //  Feature Stories

Brig. Gen. Robert Branyon (right) accepts command of the Florida Air National Guard from Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr., Nov. 30, 2012, during a ceremony in St. Augustine, Fla. Photo by Debra Cox

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Nov. 30, 2012) – With the time-honored passing of the colors, Brig. Gen. Robert M. Branyon assumed command of nearly 2,000 members of the Florida Air National Guard (FLANG) and inherited a legacy of leadership. 

On Friday afternoon Brig. Gen Joseph Balskus passed command of the FLANG to Branyon during a military ceremony on the parade field at the historic St. Francis Barracks. The event was attended by friends, families and military members from across the state. 

“I thank you all for the privilege of serving as your commander,” outgoing commander Balskus said to the Airmen gathered on the field that represented the FLANG’s ten separate units. “I wish you Godspeed with your new commander (Brig.) Gen. Branyon, who will take you to even higher levels of success.” 

Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr. (left) pins major general rank on Maj. Gen. Joseph Balskus during a change of command and promotion ceremony for the Florida Air National Guard, Nov. 30, 2012 in St. Augustine, Fla. Photo by Debra Cox

After relinquishing the prestigious command, Balskus was promoted to the rank of major general. He was also awarded the Florida Cross for his distinguished service to Florida. 

He is moving on to take a position in Washington D.C. as the Military Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategic Plans and Programs, Headquarters, United States Air Force.  In this capacity he will be working in the inner-most circle of strategic planning for the Air Force. 

“In the 43 years that I’ve had working in the Air National Guard, I’ve met many general officers,” Adjutant General for Florida Maj. Gen. Emett Titshaw Jr. said during the ceremony to Balskus. “And I will tell you that there are none that are more prepared to assume this responsibility than you.” 

Branyon most recently served as Chief of Staff of the Florida Air National Guard. He received his commission in June 1982 from the U.S. Air Force Academy after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Branyon is a command pilot with more than 3,525 flight hours in the T-37, T-38B, F-4C/D/E, F-5E, the F-15A/B/C/D and the F-16A/B/C/D. 

“I will visit all of our ten units throughout the state, and listen and observe to find out what our Airmen need,” Branyon said. “…Then I’m going to serve. That’s why they call our profession service.”