SC Air National Guard lifts off with historic appointment

Calvin Elam is the first African American to hold the rank of Brigadier General with the South Carolina Air National Guard.

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- For Calvin Elam his path into making history with the South Carolina Air National Guard started before he graduated from high school. He wanted to attend college but didn't have the means to pay for it. So after the advice of a friend he joined the military.

â??My initial position was to go to school, get money for college and leave the military. But six years into it I found that it become a part of me, says Brigadier General Calvin Elam.

The Greenwood native began his military career in 1980 and spent six years in the air force as an enlisted contracting specialist. In 1988 he graduated from USCâ??s Darla Moore School of Business and soon after became an officer in the military.

â??I went to college at night, air force during the day from 7:30-4:00 and than at night from 5:30-10:00. I went to college and my first assignment was at Shaw Air Force Base, says Brigadier General Elam.

Elam was involved in a number of leadership positions with the air national guard.

But what he didn't know was that he was getting ready to make history.

â??Two to three years ago, the opportunity existed and members of the SC Air National Guard leadership team started telling me that thereâ??s an opportunity for you to get to the next level,â?? says Brigadier General Elam.

After 32 years of military experience on January 13, 2013, he was promoted to the rank Brigadier General. Heâ??s the first African American to hold this position with the South Carolina Air National Guard.

â??A person of color, it certainly puts you in a whole different realm, because youâ??re breaking barriers and when you think about it in 2013, to be talking about being a first, itâ??s really an achievement. But itâ??s something that you would think would have happened long before thanâ?? says Brigadier General Elam.

Brigadier General Elam is responsible for the operational and the policy making aspects of the air guard. Heâ??s the CEO of his own financial management firm Elam Financial Group, helping others by planning out their future financial. The firm is located in Downtown Columbia.

Brigadier General Elam says he hopes his historic appointment will be a teaching moment for everyone.

â??To make sure I leave a legacy in terms of creating opportunities for those who follow me. Making sure that we take a look at whatever the challenges are dealing with the federal deficit,â?? says Brigadier General Elam.