Aug. 6—TUPELO — After giving the last 34 years to the Army National Guard, Kelly Mims was given a ceremonial promotion as he retired from military service.
Congressman Trent Kelly, a Major General himself in the National Guard, presided over the Friday evening ceremony that promoted Mims to the rank of brigadier general. During the week, Mims is a circuit court judge.
"The state of Mississippi is promoting me to general as long as I promise to retire. And it's only for this state. I am supposed to take off the pins if I leave the state, but I might not," Mims said with a smile.
Mims joined the guard in July 1988 as a way to help pay for college. He started with tanks in Nettleton as an armor soldier. After Officer Candidacy School in 1992, he began moving up the ranks. As a lieutenant, he was a platoon leader in Booneville and later commanded Company B there. When he made major, he began teaching command and general staff college.
As he moved up the ranks, his stations moved further away from northeast Mississippi. The job took him to Phoenix, Arizona; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Tacoma, Washington.
Over the last three decades, he has been called to active duty three times. That included two trips to the Middle East — Operation Desert Storm/Shield in 1990 and Iraqi Freedom 3 in 2004.
Mims is retiring because the Army says that, at 51, he is too old.
"It's called a mandatory removal date," Mims said. "Since I did not make it to general quick enough, I have to step down, effective Sept. 1."
Growing up in a family where his father, Larry Mims, lived and breathed military, Kelly Mims was almost expected to enlist. He learned to love it.
"It shaped who I am. It helped pay the bills and it kept me fit," Mims said. "It also gave me a break from life. One weekend a month, I went somewhere and got to spend time with a great group of guys."