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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 21, 2024


The colors of the V.I. National Guard were passed from retiring Adjutant General Jean Romney to newly promoted Brig. Gen. Cleave Antonio McBean in a change of command ceremony on St. Croix Friday.
Romney is retiring after a 29-year career in the U.S. Army, three-and-a-half as the commander of VING. Gov. Charles Turnbull appointed McBean, also a 29-year Army veteran, to take his place.
"I’m here today because of the strong mentorships I had," McBean said, pointing to General Rudy Francis, General Robert Moorhead, Al Heath and Gerard Luz James Sr. "Let's make no mistake. We have a nonnegotiable contract with the people of the Virgin Islands to have a trained and ready force."
Romney, a former V.I. senator, said his retirement and that of other high-ranking officers "shouldn’t be seen as an end to an era."
"I’m leaving this command in the very capable hands of competent leaders," he said.
McBean’s active military career included a tour in Vietnam. He enlisted in VING in 1977 as a sergeant, accepted a commission as a second lieutenant later that year and achieved the rank of colonel before being promoted to brigadier general on Thursday.
Although McBean will serve as acting adjutant general of the 900-strong VING, comprised of the Army and Air National Guards, for 90 days, he is expected to be named as Romney's permanent successor. The adjutant general position is a cabinet-level post filled by the sitting governor.
McBean is taking over VING as the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C. investigates allegations of sexual harassment in the local Air National Guard. Charges have been brought against Lt. Col. David Stickley, commander of the 285th Combat Communications Squadron, and Lt. Col. Wilfred Davis, the squadron’s executive support staff officer, alleging misuse of authority, discrimination and civil rights abuses.
On Friday, Capt. Osbert Potter, VING’s public information officer, said he had no new information on the status of the investigation or what McBean may decide once it is completed.
"We’ll see what the new general wants to do based on the findings," Potter said.
Also under investigation is VING’s second-highest-ranking officer, Col. Edward Charles. Charles has been on leave since March following accusations of sexual harassment.
At the ceremonies Friday, Charles said it could be another month before the investigation is completed. "I understand there is no final outcome yet. I’m prepared to go back to work," Charles said, adding that he is confident he will be "exonerated."

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