By Edwin Wriston
| Jan. 6, 2021
Official Portrait of BG William "Bill" Crane, WVNG TAG. (Photo by Caleb Vance)
BG William "Bill" Crane participates in a virtual ceremony with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice as he assumes the roles and responsibilities of The Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 in Charleston, W.Va. The ceremony was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Edwin Wriston) (Photo by Edwin L. Wriston)
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice held a virtual Change of Command ceremony to announce that Brig. Gen. William E. “Bill” Crane has officially assumed the duties, roles, and responsibilities as The Adjutant General for the West Virginia National Guard, effective Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
“General, it goes without saying, that I have all the faith in the world in your abilities to be able to lead our men and women, and to take that leadership role and run with it,” Gov. Justice said. “You’ll do unbelievable, without any doubt in my mind whatsoever. Your credentials are impeccable. You have all the right stuff, and, without any question, I am confident beyond belief that you’re going to do an incredible job.”
Crane is taking over command from Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, who is retiring from active service after 37 years in uniform (1983-2020). Hoyer has served as Adjutant General since 2011 when he was appointed to the position by then Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
“General Hoyer has been with us for a good while, and what an incredible job he’s done,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve seen him in action so many times. I’ve had the great opportunity to work with him...I can remember, General, you in the derecho, I can remember, General, you in the terrible flood of 2016. I saw you and I’ve seen exactly what our great National Guard has done.”
In recognition of his leadership and years of service to his state and nation, Maj. Gen. Hoyer was honored with the WVNG's West Virginia Distinguished Service Medal today. The award was presented by Gov. Justice.
“It’s my honor to lead this transition between these two really great men,” Gov. Justice said. “They’re great husbands, great dads, and great West Virginians.”
“I am honored to assume the responsibilities of Adjutant General for our great Mountain State and cannot begin to thank Governor Justice and General Hoyer for the trust and confidence they have placed in me to lead this incredible organization into the future,” Brig. Gen. Crane said.
“The true heroes are the men and women in uniform, our civilian workforce and our retirees who make up our One Guard family, who are on the front lines today and every day defending our nation and our state,” Crane continued. “It is my honor to represent them and to command one of the most well respected and proven military forces in the world.”
Originally from Friendly, West Virginia in Tyler County, Crane has served in uniform for 36 years, joining the West Virginia Army National Guard in 1984 as a vehicle driver for the 1092nd Engineer Battalion. He simultaneously served in the 1092nd while attending West Virginia University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program, and continued in that unit for decades, serving in a wide variety of leadership roles.
During his outstanding career, Crane has been assigned to various functional mission areas to include joint operations, intelligence, human resources and personnel management, recruiting and retention, and logistics, including overseas in combat zones and as a part of the National Guard Bureau headquarters staff as the United States Property and Fiscal Officer in West Virginia.
In his most recent assignments, Crane served as a chief of staff for the West Virginia Army National Guard, commander for the 111th Engineer Brigade and as Director of the Joint Staff. He has also served as a chemist in his civilian career and holds multiple patents for his work.
Crane was promoted to brigadier general in March at a ceremony in Charleston overseen by Hoyer.
“I greatly appreciate not just your commitment and sacrifice to the Guard over the years, but how you always stepped up and took on challenges when they needed to be taken on,” Hoyer said to Crane during the ceremony.
When asked about his replacement, Hoyer was quick to offer praise.
“I am supremely confident in Bill’s abilities to take over the responsibilities as Adjutant General without missing a beat,” said Hoyer. “He is a proven leader, well-respected among the troops, and I cannot wait to see his vision for our force become realized. Great things are ahead for our Guard, and I couldn’t be prouder to turn the reins over to Bill and his team.”
Crane, known as a process-oriented leader, is ready as he assumes full command and to continue the legacy of those, including Hoyer, who came before him.
“It’s clear that there are big shoes to fill in the departure of Major General Hoyer,” said Crane. “I have no doubt that the vision and priorities we have established as a new team will lead the Guard into even more successes here at home and abroad. I envision our organization embodying the One Guard family motto, meaning our Soldiers, Airmen, their families, our retirees, and civilian workforce are our most valuable asset and our West Virginia values set us apart from other organizations. There are numerous other priorities such as leadership development, diversification of our force, capitalizing on our unique units, talent, and terrain in West Virginia and the promoting of our national level training assets to name a few.”
The man Crane is taking over for has left an indelible mark on the WVNG and the Mountain State.
Hoyer began his military career in the West Virginia National Guard as a cavalry officer after being commissioned through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program at the University of Charleston. He attended the Special Forces Officer Qualification course and spent over 14 years with the 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
As Adjutant General, Hoyer led the development of the West Virginia National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force and the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center and its Center for National Response, a national level operational and training capability for critical infrastructure protection and consequence response.
Other accomplishments by the WVNG during Hoyer’s tenure include spearheading the Pathways Program with West Virginia Department of Education for Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy cadets to earn their high school diploma upon MCA graduation, the establishment of a second MCA in Montgomery, launch of the Future Leaders Program in high schools across the state, development and expansion of the Patriot Guardens program, and overseeing interagency support for multiple National and World Scout Jamborees held in West Virginia.
Over the past year, Hoyer has led the WVNG’s efforts to combat the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing operations to include deployment of more than 700 Guardsmen at the peak of response across the entire state. He has pushed for building a solid team of interagency partners to coordinate and enhance operations to serve and protect the citizens of West Virginia, and placed special emphasis on innovation, leading West Virginia to trailblaze efforts in regard to personal protective equipment design and production as well as mobile disinfection equipment and procedures.
While hanging up his uniform, Hoyer will remain involved as the leader of the state’s Joint Interagency Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccines, even as he begins a new role at West Virginia University serving as a senior associate vice president. He will also continue to be heavily involved in economic development initiatives around the state as a part of Gov. Justice’s administration, including the recently announced Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center.