EASTOVER, S.C.— With more than 37 years of exceptionally distinguished service in the U.S. Army and the South Carolina National Guard (SCNG), Maj. Gen. Lester D. Eisner retired today. With the Army Aviation Support Facility at McEntire Joint National Guard Base full of past and present service members along with many friends looking on, Eisner received a grand send off.
"I am humbled and honored to stand before you all," said Eisner. "I'm better because of all of you and countless others who couldn't be with us."
With a formation of over 1,000 Soldiers from the 59th Aviation Troop Command, Eisner received numerous awards and praised for his dedication and selfless service. Among the presentations to Eisner were the Distinguished Service Medal, Guardsman Retirement Medal, Certificate of Appreciate, a U.S. flag and the Order of Saint Michael.
"Very few people are given the Order of Saint Michael," said Brig. Gen. (retired) Thomas Konitzer, former President of the Army Aviation Association of America. "This order is intended to recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Aviation, and Les had done just that."
Eisner graduated from Mercer University as a distinguished military graduate in 1976 with a regular Army commission in Infantry. In 1979, Eisner graduated from the Initial Entry Rotary Wing Course at Fort Rucker, Ala., as the honor Aeroscout graduate. In September 1985, he left the Active Army to join the S.C. National Guard. Throughout the years, he held numerous positions of responsibility including platoon leader, operations officer, executive officer and battalion commander.
"Les was individually proficient, and he developed his units," said Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., the adjutant general of South Carolina. "And as he moved out of the Aviation community and into The Adjutant General building, Les demanded excellence in all of our war fighting capabilities."
In February 2006 Eisner became assistant adjutant general – Army, and was promoted to Brigadier General. In January 2008 he was appointed as full time Deputy Adjutant General and also served in a dual-hat assignment as deputy commanding general, Army National Guard – Air Defense Artillery Center, Fort Sill, Okla. Eisner was promoted to Major General in August 2010.
"He has proven performance, time and time again," said Livingston. "Les is a great leader and he has carried the state of South Carolina and the nation to greater heights."
"We're in the people business," concluded Eisner. "The weapons systems will ebb and flow, but people remain. It's all about the mentors and teachers that came before them and before me that make us what we are."
As Eisner came to center stage, he faced the aviation formation and said, "You represent the finest Soldiers that Army Aviation has. You make me proud. Thank you."
Eisner's official retirement date is March 5, 2014.