RAPID CITY, S.D. – Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Marlette, South Dakota National Guard Adjutant General, retired after more than 36 years of military service to his community, state, and nation. A retirement ceremony was held at the Joint Force Headquarters, Camp Rapid, on August 4.
Marlette retired as South Dakota’s 22nd Adjutant General, a position he has held since June 2019. He also serves on Governor Noem’s cabinet as the Adjutant General.
“I do feel a sense of loss. For many years Maj. Gen. Marlette and his wife Sandy have not only been advisors but people who have lead by example and they’ve been friends,” said Gov. Kristi Noem, during the ceremony. “I have been able to make the right decision because of this man [Marlette], because this man who cared about doing things right and correct. He’s helped me become a better leader.”
Marlette served as the Adjutant General from June 8, 2019 – August 4, 2023. He was responsible for the preparation of more than 4,200 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and over 1,000 full-time federal and state employees to respond in times of state or national emergencies.
“Thank you all for being here with us. I can tell you this has been a tremendous honor and privilege for me to serve in this role and wear this uniform,” stated Maj. Gen. Marlette. “Governor, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to do this; it has been an absolute honor.” Marlette contributed his success to his wife Sandy and the support of his family.
He began his SDNG career in 1980 and received his commission as a second lieutenant through the South Dakota Military Academy Officer Candidate School program in 1982, branching as an engineer officer.
He served at every level of command and was the first commander of the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. He also served as the state’s Assistant Adjutant General – Army from April 2011 – October 2012.
Marlette deployed to Iraq 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the commander of 2nd Battalion, 147th Field Artillery. The battalion was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for their outstanding performance during the deployment.
During his tenure as the Adjutant General, the SDNG had over 1,000 Soldiers and Airmen deployed to over 30 countries and supported 25 different state active duty missions. Marlette’s units and members received 54 national and individual awards for superior performance, safety, and strong financial stewardship.
“We’ve had Soldiers and Airmen deployed every day since 9-11,” stated Maj. Gen. Marlette. “It’s a tough job and a big job but you’re up for it.”
Marlette has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, Ancient Order of Saint Barbara, and multiple other awards.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in education administration from Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD. He also earned an Education Specialist Degree from the University of Sioux Falls. Marlette and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.