Jackson, Miss. – Gov. Phil Bryant announced today that he has appointed retired Brig. Gen. Robert Crear and retired Sgt. 1st Class Max Fenn to the Mississippi State Veterans Affairs Board.
Crear and Fenn will replace Hayes Dent and James Richmond. The appointments are effective immediately. Crear and Fenn are both retired from the U.S. Army.
“I thank Sgt. 1st Class Fenn and Brig. Gen. Crear for serving their country as members of the most powerful fighting force in the world,” Gov. Bryant said. “That their service will continue on the Veterans Affairs Board is great news for Mississippi, and I am delighted they have accepted these appointments.”
Crear, a native and resident of Vicksburg, earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Jackson State University in 1975. Upon graduation, he earned a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers through the ROTC program.
Crear has served worldwide, commanded and led soldiers and civilians at every level, while serving in high-level leadership positions with the Corps of Engineers. At the Pentagon he served as the military assistant to the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works. At the Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C., he served as assistant director of civil works and as the chief of staff. In the field he commanded the Corps’ Vicksburg District, the Southwest Division and the Mississippi Valley Division. Additionally, he served as president of the Mississippi River Commission.
Crear retired from the Army in 2008.
“My wife Reatha and I decided to retire in our hometown of Vicksburg in order to give back to our community that laid the foundation for our success,” Crear said. “I thank Gov. Bryant for giving me this opportunity to give back to the broader Mississippi community. And more importantly, I welcome the chance to serve my fellow veterans and their families whom have sacrificed the best years of their lives to the service of their country and were prepared to give life itself for all of us. I’m humbled by this opportunity to serve.”
Crear’s military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Staff Identification Badge and Parachutist Badge.
In 1999 he received the Chief of Engineers and Secretary of the Army Award for Small Business Utilization; and the Silver de Fleury Medal for his outstanding support to the Engineer Regiment. He was inducted into the Society of American Military Engineers Academy of Fellows in November 2002.
Other awards include the 2004, 2006 and 2007 Black Engineer of the Year Award for Professional Achievement in Government, Alumni of the Year and Stars and Stripes Lifetime Achievement awards (respectively). In 2006 he received the Infrastructure Security Partnership Award for Distinguished Leadership for his leadership during response and recovery efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita; and Rock of the Year award for his contributions to the Army and the nation.
In 2010 Crear was inducted into the Jackson State University Alumni Hall of Fame. In June 2016 he was inducted into the inaugural class of the National Reserve Officer Training Corps Hall of Fame.
Crear makes time to speak and mentor young people at schools throughout the nation. He has served as past chairman of the executive board of the United Way of West Central Mississippi. He is a member and past post president of the Society of American Military Engineers. He has also served on the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
He currently serves as president of the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign and is a member of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps’ Southern Regional Working Group. He currently serves on the board of directors of The Salvation Army, the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Jackson State University Development Foundation.
Crear is president and CEO of The Crear Group LLC, a business development and governmental relations consulting firm in Vicksburg. He is chairman of Rye Development, a hydropower developer based in Boston.
He is married to his high school sweetheart, the former Reatha Hall. They have four adult children and four grandchildren.
Fenn is a native of Pike County. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1981-1985, from Parris Island, S.C., to Camp Lejeune, N.C., serving with the 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines.
This tour included three deployments to the Mediterranean Sea with Marine amphibious units, one of which was land-based as part of the multi-national peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon. His unit responded to the terrorist bombing of the United States Embassy in 1983.
Honorably discharged as a sergeant/E-5 in 1985, he served in the Individual Ready Reserve before re-entering the Marine Corps Reserve in 1987, serving with the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company at Mobile, Alabama until 1993. There, he successfully completed numerous tradecraft schools to include SCUBA, airborne, and the U.S. Army Ranger School. The unit was mobilized and deployed to Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991. His platoon saw action in the Battle of Khafji.
In 1993, Fenn transitioned from the Marine Corps Reserve as a gunnery sergeant to the Mississippi Army National Guard as a sergeant first class, joining Company C, 2nd Battalion of the 20th Special Forces Group (A) at Grenada. He successfully completed the Special Forces Selection and Assessment Course and the Special Forces Qualification Course as an 18B weapons sergeant.
The unit was mobilized in support of Operation Uphold Democracy in the Republic of Haiti in 1995, where Fenn was injured while conducting military operations and medivacked to the U.S. After lengthy rehabilitation, he was medically retired as a sergeant first class/E-7 from the U.S. Army in 1998.
Utilizing the Veterans Administration Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Fenn enrolled at the University of Mississippi in the fall of 1998, graduating in 2001 with a bachelor of arts in political science.
After Sept. 11, 2001, he went to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson as an anti-terrorism intelligence research specialist.
Fenn transitioned to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2006, where he currently serves as protective security advisor for the Office of Infrastructure Protection. He supports state homeland security efforts and contributes to the development of the national risk picture by assisting with the identification, assessment, monitoring and minimizing of risk to critical assets at the local level. He maintains a Top Secret/SCI Clearance.
“I look forward to serving our veterans, their families and the state of Mississippi,” Fenn said.
Fenn lives in Summit with his wife Anita and their two children, James Max and Emma Ann. He is a member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.