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Floyd Edsall, Nevada Guard's 1st full-time adjutant general, dies at 92

Floyd Edsall, seen here as a brigadier general circa 1965, eventually attained the rank of major general and served as the Nevada National Guard's adjutant general from 1967-1979. He died Jan. 29 in Sparks, Nev., at age 92.

Photo courtesy Nevada State Library and Archives

Floyd Edsall, seen here as a brigadier general circa 1965, eventually attained the rank of major general and served as the Nevada National Guard's adjutant general from 1967-1979. He died Jan. 29 in Sparks, Nev., at age 92. Photo courtesy Nevada State Library and Archives

CARASON CITY, Nev. -- Retired Maj. Gen. Floyd Edsall, who guided the Nevada National Guard through a period of expansion in the 1960s and 1970s despite the backdrop of the Vietnam War, passed away Jan. 29 in Sparks, Nev., at age 92.

Edsall was the adjutant general for Nevada and commanded both the Nevada Air and Army Guard from June 1, 1967, until Aug. 24, 1979. Edsall succeeded Col. Addison Millard and, due to the revision of Nevada Militia laws by the 1967 Nevada Legislature, was the first full-time adjutant general for the state. Those same laws created the Nevada Military Department and a Nevada Code of Military Justice.

"Edsall's appointment as the Nevada Guard's first full-time adjutant general marked the legislature's realization that the Nevada Guard was a significant resource for the state and required full-time management and oversight," said state archivist Jeff Kintop.

Despite the difficulty of recruiting in the midst of an unpopular war, the Nevada Army Guard increased by about 30 percent, from 880 Soldiers in 1967 to 1,224 Soldiers in 1979, according to state of Nevada Biennial Reports. The Nevada Air Guard hovered at about 700 Airmen throughout Edsall's term.

"He always wanted what was best for the Nevada Guard," said retired Brig. Gen. Stan Jones, who worked as a personnel officer on Edsall's staff from 1970-1979. "There were difficulties with funding and it was tough to attract recruits during the Vietnam War, but the Nevada Guard continued to grow."

Major projects completed during Edsall's time in office included the Nevada Military Department Headquarters in Carson City, the Henderson Armory and a maintenance shop in Elko. The Nevada Army Guard's aviation assets expanded from three Soldiers operating one observational helicopter to a full company of about 30 Soldiers flying UH-1 Huey helicopters.

Edsall also oversaw several major events in Nevada Air Guard history, including the 1968 deployment of the entire organization and the 1975 transition from RF-101B Voodoo aircraft to RF-4C Phantom II aircraft.

Jones said evidence of Edsall's effectiveness was the fact he was retained by two subsequent governors after he was appointed by Gov. Paul Laxalt. Edsall also worked for Mike O' Callaghan from 1971-1979 and for Robert List in 1979.

"(Edsall) was a strong, decisive leader but also a very cordial person," said retired Col. Miles Celio, who worked on Edsall's staff from 1972-1979.

Born on Dec. 14, 1921, in Covelo, Calif., Edsall's rise through the military ranks began with his participation in ROTC at the University of Nevada, Reno. He received his commission at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1944 and then fought in Europe in World War II and was awarded the Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. He received his Silver Star for his actions in April 1945 while assigned to the 63rd Infantry Division.

During his long civilian teaching and coaching career at Elko and Sparks high schools and UNR after World War II, Edsall remained active in the Nevada Guard. He attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1959, the same year he began coaching football and track and field at UNR. He was a health and physical education professor at UNR before becoming the adjutant general in 1967, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

After his retirement from the military, he was the executive director of the Reno Air Racing Association from 1980-1985.

Edsall's military and athletic prowess was often recognized. He is in the Infantry Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga., and the former state champion in the long jump and high jump is also in the Halls of Fame at Sparks and Elko high schools. (He was inducted as a coach at Elko High School in 2007).

The Nevada Army Guard's 1,697-acre training facility on Range Road in North Las Vegas was dedicated as the Maj. Gen. Floyd Edsall Training Center on May 10, 1997, to recognize Edsall's contributions to the Nevada Guard.