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Top Colorado National Guard officer Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards to retire

Author: Ernest Luning - January 26, 2017 - Updated: January 26, 2017

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Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado's adjutant general, talks about the work of the Colorado National Guard, which he oversees, at a celebratoin of the Guard's 157th birthday on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at the state Capitol. On Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that Edwards would be retiring on March 31 upon reaching mandatory retirement age. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado’s adjutant general, talks about the work of the Colorado National Guard, which he oversees, at a celebratoin of the Guard’s 157th birthday on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at the state Capitol. On Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that Edwards would be retiring on March 31 upon reaching mandatory retirement age. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado’s adjutant general, will step down on March 31 upon reaching mandatory retirement age, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Thursday,

Edwards has commanded the Colorado National Guard since 2007 and also serves on the governor’s cabinet as executive director of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

“For the last 43 years, our entire nation has benefitted from the distinguished and noble service of Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Coloradans will long remember him as one of the most accomplished adjutants general in our state’s history. Veterans across our state will long benefit from his tireless efforts to serve those who have served. Gen. Edwards represents the best of the National Guard and our military, and we are forever grateful for his service to Colorado and our country.”

A search for his replacement is under way, Hickenlooper’s office said.

Edwards called it a privilege to serve “the dedicated Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen in the Colorado National Guard” and the people of Colorado.

The Colorado National Guard celebrated its 157th birthday at the state Capitol on Monday in a ceremony led by Hickenlooper and Edwards.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Major General H. Michael Edwards, the adjutant general of the Colorado, alongside Master Sgt. Michael Landers and Spec. Hannah Quaney, sing "Happy Birthday" at the Colorado National Guard's 157th birthday celebration on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at the Colorado Capitol in Denver. On Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, Hickenlooper announced that Edwards would be retiring on March 31 upon reaching mandatory retirement age. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
Gov. John Hickenlooper, Major General H. Michael Edwards, the adjutant general of the Colorado, alongside Master Sgt. Michael Landers and Spec. Hannah Quaney, sing “Happy Birthday” at the Colorado National Guard’s 157th birthday celebration on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at the Colorado Capitol in Denver. On Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, Hickenlooper announced that Edwards would be retiring on March 31 upon reaching mandatory retirement age. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

As adjutant general, he has been responsible for overseeing the state’s more than 5,300 Guard members, who respond to domestic emergencies and can be called by the Army and Air Force to deploy overseas. He’s also been responsible for supporting the Civil Air Patrol’s Colorado Wing’s more than 1,600 volunteers.

Originally from Nebraska, Edwards is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has logged more than 4,600 military flight hours, including 135 combat hours and has flown the A-7, AT-38, C-21, F-4, F-16, T-37 and T-38 aircrafts, the governor’s office said.

In his cabinet role, Edwards kept the state’s Veterans Trust Fund from dissolution during the economic downturn and inaugurated the department’s administration of the Veterans Assistance Grant program.

During his tenure, more than 6,000 soldiers and airmen under his command mobilized to support operations overseas. The Colorado National Guard also responded to a string of major natural disasters, including the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires in 2012 and the Black Forest Fire and massive flooding in 2013.

Edwards and his wife, Laury, plan to retire in Colorado.

Current commissioned officers with at least five years service in the Colorado National Guard holding a rank of at least lieutenant colonel for at least a year and at least 10 years of military service are eligible to apply with the governor’s office for the adjutant general position.

ernest@coloradostatesman.com

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.