Jackson, Miss.—Maj. Gen. Augustus L. (Leon) Collins, the adjutant general of Mississippi, has announced his retirement from the Mississippi National Guard, effective August 31, 2016. Brig. Gen. Janson D. (Durr) Boyles will take over the position of adjutant general on September 1, 2016.
Collins was appointed as the adjutant general on Jan. 11, 2012, by Gov. Phil Bryant. He currently oversees the Mississippi Military Department and serves as commander of the Mississippi Army and Air National Guard. The Booneville native ends his time in uniform with 35 years of service to Mississippi and the nation.
“I can truly say that I’ve had the best job in the world,” said Collins. “Being able to work with the best soldiers, airmen, and civilians this country has to offer has been a rewarding experience that will never be forgotten.”
“Leon Collins has been a great leader for the Mississippi Military Department and the men and women of the Mississippi National Guard. Gen. Collins is a soldier’s soldier,” Gov. Bryant said. “He has led with distinction and a devotion to his troops and their families. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
“I’m honored the governor would select me for the position of adjutant general. To have the opportunity to lead a group of men and women who I admire for their commitment to a cause greater than themselves is humbling,” Boyles said. “I look forward to following a man I consider to be an outstanding military leader.”
Collins’ career began in March 1977 as a private with the Mississippi Army National Guard’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 198th Armor Regiment. In July 1980, he completed Officer Candidate School and served in command and staff positions on the company, battalion, and brigade levels. He also served on the adjutant general’s primary staff as a traditional and active Guard – Reserve Soldier.
Collins served on active duty in Operations Desert Shield and Storm, and commanded the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 – 2006. It was the largest mobilization of Mississippi troops since World War II. He was promoted to brigadier general on May 10, 2005 in Iraq, making him the first African American to attain the rank of general officer in the history of the Mississippi National Guard. He was promoted to his present rank following his appointment as adjutant general in 2012.
Boyles’ career began in 1982 and he has 34 years of commissioned service. In 2005, he served as the Executive Officer for the 168th Engineer Group in the Mississippi National Guard during Hurricane Katrina recovery and rebuilding efforts.
In 2009, Boyles served in Afghanistan with the 168th Engineer Brigade of the Mississippi National Guard. Recently, he has served 2015-2016 in Kosovo as Chief of Staff of KFOR Forces, a NATO Division deployed as part of Operation Joint Guardian.
“General Boyles is unequivocally the best officer to serve as adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard. His past performance as a senior leader of the Guard has proven my reliance in him and my trust in his abilities,” Gov. Bryant said. “He has commanded at all levels and has developed outstanding planning and managerial skills, as evidenced by his successful career.”
A native of Jackson, Miss., Boyles graduated from Mississippi State University where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering in 1982 and in 2005 he received his Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.
Boyles and his wife, Robin, have two adult sons and attend Christ United Methodist Church.
“Many of the National Guard soldiers who serve as I have, value our time in uniform working alongside peers, leaders, and soldiers to train on difficult tasks in difficult environments, deploy to put that training to test, and experience a successful accomplishment of both,” Boyles said. “As the adjutant general, I’ll have the opportunity to continue influencing our training to prepare us for future missions abroad and natural disasters here at home. Most importantly, my responsibility will be to provide for the soldiers and their families who we so value.”
Retirement ceremony details for Collins are forthcoming and will be released as soon as they are available.