A Fallon man who attended the U.S. Military Academy and eventually returned to Carson City to serve in the Nevada Army National Guard became on Friday the state’s newest general.
Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan, a 1982 Churchill County High School graduate who now lives in Indian Hills in Douglas County, received his new shoulder boards from Gov. Brian Sandoval, the Nevada military’s commander in chief, and Brig Gen. William Burks, the adjutant general, in a ceremony at the capitol’s Guinn Room attended by about 50 friends, family members and colleagues from both the Guard and his civilian employer, GE Bently Nevada.
Hanifan’s wife, Denise, and two sons, Timothy and Matthew, proceeded to change the rank on his Army shirt’s shoulder straps and then his beret.
Hanifan will become the state’s Commander National Guard for Nevada when a change of command ceremony takes place on Sept. 7 at the Washoe County Armory (Sen. Harry Reid Readiness & Training Center). This will then make Hanifan the highest ranking Army officer in Nevada and the second active Guard general officer from Fallon.
Brig. Gen. Todd Plimpton, a Lovelock attorney, graduated a year behind Hanifan from CCHS and currently serves as Oregon’s Commander Army Guard.
Sandoval, who has attended most of the Nevada National Guard’s deployments and redeployments from both Iraq and Afghanistan, said it is a privilege and honor for him to work with Nevada’s men and women because of what they do in the miltiary to protect the United States.
The governor told Hanifan it takes many skills to be a leader in the state’s National Guard.
“Your are the epitome of a great Nevadan and someone who will do great things for the soldiers of Nevada,” Sandoval said.
Burks said the greatest thing to happen to the state military was when Hanifan left active duty and joined the Nevada Army National Guard in 1998.
“He’s been a Godsend to us,” Burks said in describing Hanifan’s leadership abilities and military knowledge.
Burks also compared Hanifan as unflappable like a duck paddling on Virginia Lake. On the outside, he said Hanifan is not easily ruffled, but his “legs are paddling in the water” to show that he is always on the move, always thinking.
“He’s the consummate professional,” Burks said.
Hanifan thanked both Burks and Sandoval for their support they have placed in him to become the Commander Army Guard.
“Thank you for the trust you put in me and I won’t let you down,” Hanifan said, adding that he has great soldiers with whom to work.
In addition to thanking the military, Hanifan also recognized his supervisors from GE Bently Nevada, who attended the hour-long ceremony. Hanifan commended the company and his bosses for their support, especially when he was required to go on extended active duty tours in support of Nevada Guard missions.
Hanifan, though, paused when he spoke of his late father, John Hanifan, who died in January 2012. He said his father also served in the Nevada Army National Guard and was commander of the Fallon unit in the 1950s.
“My dad helped me get into West Point and get the nomination from our congressman,” Hanifan added.
Hanifan also acknowledged his mother, Starlene, who attended the promotion ceremony and thanked here for the support she gave him when he attended West Point.
“The first year was at tough year, and he helped me make it through,” he said.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Hanifan turned to a small contingent of soldiers standing in the back of the room.
“The only way I made it here was because of great people on the staff,” he added
During the past three years, Hanifan has been the deputy director of the Nevada Army National Guard. He served the majority of his positions in Carson City at the Office of the Adjutant General. When Hanifan becomes Commander Army Guard, he will be responsible for the training and readiness of 3,200 Nevada soldiers.
Hanifan served 10 years on active duty with the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord), Wash., where he held multiple positions. He returned to Nevada in 1996 where he accepted a position at GE Bently Nevada.