The highest-ranking military officer to have graduated from the Clemson Reserve Officer Training Corps just got a new title.
On June 27, the Senate confirmed Gen. John “Jay” Raymond as the commander of the new United States Space Command by a unanimous voice vote.
Shoutout to Tigers
During his confirmation hearing, Raymond asked if he could “give a shout out to the Clemson Tigers.”
Raymond, a four-star general, was previously serving as the commander of Air Force Space Command based in Colorado and will now hold both titles.
President Donald Trump signed an order to create the new Space Command in December. It is a first step in the administration’s longer-term plan to create a new branch of the armed forces called the Space Force.
According to the Department of Defense, the Space Force would, “unify, focus, and accelerate the development of space doctrine, capabilities, and expertise to outpace future threats, institutionalize advocacy for space priorities and further build a space warfighting culture.”
“It’s an exciting time to be in the space business,” Raymond said in a phone interview with The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail. “I’m very honored and feel very privileged to be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to lead the U.S. Space Command and Air Force Space Command. I think it’s a really important step for our nation.”
Raymond graduated from Clemson in 1984 with a degree in administrative management. He grew up in a military family and lived in Virginia before coming to Clemson. He knew he wanted to go to an ACC school. When he took his first-ever trip to South Carolina to visit the university, he “fell in love with it.”
While Raymond said he never envisioned the 35-year military career he would have, he believes the role models he met at Clemson helped set his course.
Now, Raymond serves as that role model for other Clemson students. He tries to visit campus and mentor business school and ROTC students when he can get the leave, he said.
Col. Keith Balts has led Clemson’s Air Force ROTC program since 2017 and spent 11 years with Raymond as his direct supervisor and commander.
“For the young cadets who maybe have never met General Raymond, to see someone who was in their shoes even decades ago who has not only made it to the Air Force but has excelled at the highest level within it, it is a great opportunity to see that role model,” Balts said.
When Raymond can’t make it back to campus, he still tries to stay engaged as a “huge football fan.”
“It’s a great time to be a Clemson Tiger,” Raymond said.
During the 2006 to 2007 football season, Raymond was deployed in the Middle East. His college roommate happened to be deployed to the same location.
“We were able to tune in to few football games together in a remote environment,” Raymond said.
Raymond’s new role will continue his focus on places far from Memorial Stadium in Clemson.
“The average American may not understand just how reliant their lives are on space and the information that comes from space capabilities,” Raymond said. “We all use GPS each and every day, but there’s lots of other capabilities that provide information that fuels our American way of life. Those same capabilities fuel our American way of war.”
Raymond said there are other countries trying to deny the U.S. access to those space-based capabilities. He said the new command will be responsible for protecting against that.
While Raymond works to defend the country’s space infrastructure, his advice for the next class of Clemson students is to be “bold” and not to wait until a decade or two int heir careers to try and make a difference in the world.
“I would just tell Clemson students, if they are at Clemson, they are good enough to do really well in whatever profession they decide to undertake,” he said.