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A Star Legacy for 37 Years

  • Published
  • By by Tech. Sgt. Anthony Ballard
  • 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Nothing, but smiles filled the hanger as Brig. Gen. Clarence Ervin rendered a final salute during his retirement ceremony at the North Carolina Air National Guard base in Charlotte, NC. Family, friends and guard members gathered to celebrate the retirement of Brig. Gen. Clarence Ervin, Chief of Staff for the North Carolina Air National Guard, after serving in the military for 37 years. 

“I am so happy! I feel I achieved what I needed to do and that was to serve,” said Brig. Gen. Clarence Ervin with a smile when asked how he felt about retiring. 

South Carolina is Gen. Ervin’s home state and his military journey began when he enlisted in the Unites States Air Force in 1979 as a fuels specialist. It wasn’t long before he left active duty for the North Carolina Air National Guard in 1985 and later received his officer commissioning in 1988 through the Academy of Military Science. Gen. Ervin was the first African American general officer in the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 70-year history. He has also served in multiple roles throughout his career from being the Military Equal Opportunity Officer and Vice Commander of the 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte, N.C. to Director of Staff, Assistant Adjutant General, and to his current role as Chief of Staff at Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh, N.C.

“He achieved so many important milestones throughout his career and will be remembered for the time served from beginning to end. And that time or the “dash” between these two ranks represents his legacy,” said Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams, Senior Enlisted Leader for the Kansas National Guard, during the retirement reception as he held up a plaque showing Ervin’s highest rank as an enlisted member and as a general officer. 

The day of the retirement ceremony was particularly special because it was also the birthday of Gen. Ervin’s late mother. In the front row with the family, there was a chair marked “Reserved” with a bouquet of red roses. The roses were placed in remembrance of Gen. Ervin’s late wife, Lauretta M. Ervin, who passed away three years prior to his retirement. 

In a room filled with family and friends Gen. Ervin said, “I know they’re here smiling at me and would be very proud of me,” referring to his late wife and mother during his speech at the retirement reception. “And I have to give so much credit to my wife for getting me to where am I today.” 

Plans during retirement are already being made for Gen. Ervin to fill up his time after serving for so many years in the military. “He’ll be able to fish a little more and get back to gardening as he usually has a large garden every year,” said CJ Ervin, one of Gen. Ervin’s two sons. “I’m also looking forward to a slower pace and to spend more time with my father as I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I’ve wanted to,” said Gen. Ervin when asked about his plans for retirement.

Gen. Ervin gave his father plenty of credit for his strong work ethic and leadership, which was also reflected in the remarks made by Maj. Gen., Retired, Todd Kelly, who said, “His father shaped Clarence’s life many years ago and Clarence’s mentor-ship has shaped the lives of many airmen throughout his leadership and that will always be remembered.”

As the retirement reception came to a close and after the awards were delivered with final words of gratitude from Ervin’s fellow airmen, Gen. Ervin shared his final words of advice. He said, “Set a goal to do your best and as you do your best, things will come to you. It may not be on the path that you want to take, so it may be a detour and that’s okay. Keep doing your best.”