By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
Production came to a standstill on Thursday at Rock Tenn in Clinton, not because of lack of work but rather to celebrate a lifetime achievement of one of their own.
As his friends, family and employees gathered around him, Rock Tenn general manager Eric Rant received the honor of becoming a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army National Guard.
"Typically this ceremony would take place at the regional National Guard Army post but we thought it was important for Eric to celebrate this accomplishment with his other family here at Rock Tenn," master of ceremonies Colonel Todd Jacobus said.
He went on to explain how supportive the company had been in Rant's long military history, including holding a promotion opportunity in place for him while he was deployed in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Rant also had an opportunity to thank the company and senior vice president Erik Deadwyler via Skype, while he was stranded in Norcross, Ga., because of the snowstorm that hit on Tuesday.
"Today is special for me not just because of this promotion but it's really an opportunity for me to say thanks and recognize two great organizations that have really demonstrated what civilian industry and the military should look like," Rant said. "I'd like to celebrate these two great American organizations for what they do."
In addition to recognizing the company that has supported him, Rant also recognized another kind of support — that of his wife, Laura.
After expressing his gratitude to her for "maintaining current ops and operating base Rant" during his long deployment, Rant presented her with a bouquet of flowers and sentimental embrace in front of his employees and fellow National Guardsmen.
"Military spouses don't get credit. They certainly don't get the pageantry," Rant said. "And there's countless of them out there."
His display of gratitude was received with applause from the crowd, which was teary eyed during the emotional reception.
The crowd also recognized the new lieutenant colonel with a standing ovation during his promotional order in which his wife and three children applied his new rank pins to his National Guard uniform.
As the ceremony came to an end, members of the Clinton High School band played along to the Army song, as those in attendence stood tall singing the words of the United States Army National Guard and saluted Rant's accomplishment.