After over 26 years of service, Gary L. Crist recently retired from the Mississippi Army National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonel. After serving as an enlisted Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer, he achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant prior to his completion of the Army Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia from which he graduated as a Distinguished Honor Graduate. In 2003, he was selected as platoon leader for the “Clear Skies” mission that protected vital national assets and command structure in the Washington, D.C. area. In 2008, Gary was selected as the Headquarters Commander of the Laurel/Hattiesburg based 184th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) that would eventually deploy to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2010. There, the 184th ESC assumed the mission of Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan, where Crist was responsible for 350-plus personnel as the Headquarters Commander.
Gary has always enjoyed serving others and making a difference where possible. This is evidenced by his 20-year active duty career working in the Mississippi National Guard’s CounterDrug Program. In 2015, he was selected for a dual-hat assignment as Commandant of the Regional CounterDrug Training academy (RCTA) and CounterDrug Coordinator for the entire CounterDrug Program. Under his tenure as CounterDrug Coordinator, he supported over 60 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in counter-narcotics operations located primarily in Mississippi. During that time, he oversaw an annual budget of up to $1.8 million and approximately 15 Soldiers/Airmen. During his tenure at the RCTA, he supported the “No Cost” CounterDrug training of over 140,000 law enforcement officers from all 54 states and territories. Gary served in several key positions at the RCTA. As Commandant, he was responsible for an annual budget of up to $5 million while overseeing the planning, oversight and performance of over 40 Soldiers/Airmen and civilians.
Outside of his military career, Gary spends his time running P-nut’s Pickers with friends as they buy and sell antiques, collectibles and other miscellany. An active member and deacon at Temple Baptist Church, Gary has served as leader on numerous short-term foreign mission trips and is a lay leader for the church’s security team.
A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Gary has resided in the Pine Belt for more than 28 years. He is a lifetime member of the Southern Miss Alumni Association, Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, Veterans of Foreign Wars (Post 3036), National Guard Association of the US (NGAUS), National Guard Association of Mississippi (NGAM), US Army Air Defense Artillery Association, and the Mississippi Non-Commissioned Officers Association.
Having never married and with no children, Gary’s recent retirement has provided him with the time to commit to serving his community. His proven leadership and passion to represent the interests of the constituents in district 101 make him an excellent candidate.
Mississippi National Guard CounterDrug Program (1999-2018)
Serving as the CounterDrug Coordinator (CDC) of the CounterDrug(CD) Program within the Mississippi National Guard from 2015-2018, the program supported over 60 Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies (LEA) with over 350 successful mission requests. In providing this support, I had to recruit, train, manage and ensure compliance of specific strict federal, state, military laws/regulations/authorities were adhered to. Oversaw 15 Soldiers/Airmen and a $1.8 million annual budget that provided an array of various authorized mission requests to LEAs. These missions included: criminal analysis, ground (armed and unarmed) and air reconnaissance (fixed wing and rotary wing). Requested mission support resulted in numerous successful narcotics operations for our LEA partners and Mississippi communities. This position was in a military Active Duty for Special Work- CounterDrug capacity.
Served in several positions at the Regional CounterDrug Training Academy (RCTA) that included: LEA Registration Specialist, Training Support Officer, Executive Officer and culminated with being selected as the Commandant of the RCTA in 2015. This was a dual hat assignment, along with being the CDC (see above). The during my tenure with the RCTA beginning in 1999, I assisted 2500+ LEAs from all 54 states and territories in training more than 140,000 law enforcement officers in 60+ counter-narcotics related training subjects at no cost the LEA. The RCTA is the oldest of 5 National Guard CounterDrug Training Centers that assist LEAs and the Department of Defense(DoD) with CounterDrug Training. Oversaw 40+ Soldiers/Airmen/Civilian/Contractors and a $5 million budget that provided training mission support to our partners.
Served on Active Duty for two deployments: 2003-2004 as a Platoon Leader providing Air Defense to the National Command Region and in 2010-11 as a Headquarters Company Commander for the Hattiesburg/Laurel based 184th Expeditionary Sustainment Command that deployed in 2010 to serve as the Joint Sustainment Command, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Retired from the military on September 30, 2018 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and currently holds a Top Secret- Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS-SCI) Security Clearance.
Sales Associate for Dillard’s Men’s Shoes, Hattiesburg, MS (Nov 1997-Jan 1999)
Fairfield Inn & Suites Manager/Night Auditor, Hattiesburg/Gulfport 1997
Bloomingdale High School, Valrico, FL, 1990
University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, 1996, BS in Sports Admin/Mgmt
William Carey University, Hattiesburg, MS, (2006 started MBA, not complete)
US Amy Officers Candidate School, Fort Benning, GA, 2001
US Army Air Defense Artillery Officers Basic Course, Fort Bliss, TX, 2002
National Guard Bureau (NGB) CounterDrug Safety Course, Fort Carson, CO, 2002
US Army Air Defense Artillery Officers Advanced Course, Fort Bliss, TX, 2003
NGB CD Mgmt Information Systems Administrators Course, Andrews Air Force Base, MD, 2005
Department of Defense Contracting Officer Representative, 2010
US Army Command General Staff College, Fort Dix, NJ, 2012
NGB CounterDrug Financial Managers Course, St Petersburg, FL, 2012
NGB CounterDrug Senior Leaders Course, Arlington, VA, 2014
NGB Fiscal Law Course, Fort, Eustis, VA, 2015
Federal Emergency Management Agency Institute IS 100.b, 200.b, 700.a, 800.b, 2015
AWARDS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS