Maj. Gen. Mark Berry, who is adjutant general for the Arkansas National Guard and was recently appointed cabinet secretary to the Department of the Military, is expected to retire Aug. 10. He will be replaced on that date in both positions by Maj. Gen. Kendall Penn.
Berry has served as adjutant general since Jan. 13, 2015, and is a member of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s cabinet. He’s responsible for commanding the Arkansas Air and Army National Guard, which includes nearly 10,000 airmen, soldiers and state employees, according to the state website. An adjutant general officer provides personnel support that affects soldiers’ overall welfare and wellbeing and assists commanders by accounting for and ensuring soldiers are combat-ready, according to the Army website.
“I applaud Governor Hutchinson for his selection, and I am excited for Major General Kendall Penn and the men and women of the Arkansas National Guard,” Berry said. “He is a highly professional, combat-proven soldier who has all of the leadership characteristics to carry the men and women of this more than 200-year-old institution to the next level. I look forward to working with General Penn to ensure a seamless transition, as he becomes the 53rd adjutant general of the state of Arkansas.”
Penn has served as the executive director of the National Guard Association of Arkansas for more than three years. Previously, he was the deputy commanding general for the First United States Army. He joined the Arkansas Army National Guard in 1982, and after he graduated from the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1985, he became second lieutenant of infantry. Penn has served in several command and staff positions, including commander for the 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry and commander for the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He was in the previous positions while deployed in Baghdad, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I’m pleased to announce Major General Kendall Penn as the next adjutant general of Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “General Penn is an accomplished, respected and principled leader with nearly 40 years of experience in service to our state and nation — both at home and abroad. Having served in a variety of command and staff positions, General Penn has the knowledge and expertise to lead our National Guard as the state’s 53rd adjutant general.”
“I want to thank Governor Hutchinson for his show of confidence in selecting me to serve as his next adjutant general,” Penn said. “Following Maj. Gen. Mark Berry, I know I’ve got big shoes to fill. Fortunately, the Arkansas National Guard is full of Arkansas’ best and brightest; folks who since 1804 have been willing to answer the call of their neighbors when natural disasters have arisen, and have been willing to take up arms in defense of their nation when ordered by the president. I am humbled to be counted in their midst once again. I look forward to helping advance the proud legacy of the Arkansas National Guard and our guardsmen who serve this great state of Arkansas.”
Berry was in the Air Force from August 1974 until September 1992, when he joined the Arkansas Air National Guard as a public affairs officer, according to the state website. He was communication flight commander, mission support group commander and maintenance group commander while assigned to the 188th Fighter Wing. Berry served as vice chairman of the Air National Guard A-10 Aircraft Maintenance Council and president of the National Guard Association of Arkansas. He also was A-4 assistant to the director for the Air National Guard in Arlington, Va.
“I want to thank Major General Mark Berry for his outstanding leadership over the last four-and-a-half years at the adjutant general,” Hutchinson said. “Under his tenure, the Arkansas National Guard has continued its tradition of excellence and readiness for whatever is asked of them. From natural disasters to overseas missions to assisting in national border security, the Arkansas National Guard has delivered at every turn under his leadership. I wish him the best of luck in retirement.”
In May, Berry was named cabinet secretary for the Department of the Military and is one of 15 new cabinet secretaries appointed by Hutchison to implement the governor’s plan to reduce 42 departments to 15 and serve as key advisers on major issues the state faces.
“The day I met with Governor Hutchinson, with my decision to retire, was unquestionably the most difficult day of my life,” Berry said. “The pinnacle of my career and my highest honor was to serve as adjutant general alongside more than 9,000 of the most incredibly talented professional soldiers, airmen, and civilian employees who provide for the safety and security of our communities at a moments notice. I was truly blessed to serve this great state and nation, and I thank Governor Hutchison for the opportunity he gave me as the 52nd adjutant general of Arkansas.”