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Freeman takes over

The former military officer nominated as the new adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard says he will emphasize recruiting and retention as the Guard responds to disasters at home and fights in wars around the globe.

“Next year we will be deploying about 4,000-plus people in harm’s way around the world. That is a tremendous challenge for any (adjutant general), it’s a challenge for the men and the women of the Army and the Air National Guard,” retired Brig. Gen. William “Bill” Freeman Jr. of Newton said Friday.

Gov. Haley Barbour announced at a news conference that he is nominating Freeman to succeed retiring Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross of Flowood. Freeman, 63, must be confirmed by the state Senate.

Freeman had more than 30 years’ experience with the Mississippi Army National Guard. When he retired in 1999, he was commander of the 66th Troop Command and was in charge of 2,457 soldiers.

Barbour said that when he nominated Cross as adjutant general in 2004, a committee of military officers had recommended four finalists and Freeman was on that list.

“I know Gen. Freeman has not only a huge respect and passion for the Guard as an institution, but also a very high personal concern for the well being of our Guard members and their families,” Barbour said. “He is a man of integrity, commitment and honor.”