News: Mount Airy, NC native soldier a rising star in NC Guard
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan
RALEIGH, N.C. – Army Col. John Byrd stood at attention as the Honor Guard presented his brigadier general officer’s flag; a single star on a red field.
The flag was placed next to the United States and North Carolina colors during his promotion ceremony at North Carolina National Guard Joint Force Headquarters here today.
Though the unfurling of the star of a general officer’s flag is a ritual, it is also descriptive of Byrd’s career.
Byrd, a fourth generation guardsman and Mount Airy, N.C., native, adds this promotion to a successful 32-year career. He enlisted in the guard in 1981 and earned his commission as an officer after graduating Campbell University Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1984.
He has led at every level from command of infantry platoons and companies at hometown armories to staff and command positions at the regiment, battalion, brigade and state headquarters level.
“In every aspect, you demonstrated integrity and commitment beyond reproach,” said Army Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, adjutant general of North Carolina.
He earned national recognition from the Army as commander of the NCNG’s 139th Regiment (Combat Arms) from 2010 – 2013. The regiment was accredited as an “Institute of Excellence,” for their training of Active, Guard and Reserve forces in multiple career fields and military specialties.
Byrd’s leadership was admired by an auditorium packed with generals, senior officers and noncommissioned officers, state and local officials.
Byrd is not just a soldier; he also serves as a scholar and scientist through his work as a forensic scientist manager in the forensic biology section of the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory.
“It did not take long to recognize that John lived the North Carolina National Guard motto ready, reliable, responsive and relevant,” said Judge Joseph John, North Carolina State Crime Laboratory director.
Byrd’s ceremony reflected the career and commitment of the citizen-soldier and the balance between duty and their civilian lives.
The audience of friends, family, fellow soldiers and airmen came to attention as Lusk gave the oath of office and Byrd swore to defend the constitutions of North Carolina and the United States.
“I have had the privilege of working with great officers, warrant officers and noncommissioned officers,” said Byrd.
Byrd’s wife and daughters joined him on stage and pinned his new one-star rank to his dress uniform.
“It was nerve-racking; everyone is watching and I didn’t want to mess it up,” said his daughter.
As the final speaker, Byrd spoke of his faith in Jesus, his church, fellow soldiers and most of all his family’s support of him and his career.
“I think about you every day and I love you,” said Byrd.