Citizen-Soldier Awarded Bronze Star
Many of us are extremely proud to learn that Command Sergeant Major Tom Beyard, formerly of Hagerstown, was awarded the Bronze Star in a recent ceremony at the Task Force Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot in Kuwait.
Task Force Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot 06 - 08 "TF AVCRAD" was officially formed on July 11, 2006, and consists of over 225 soldiers from 16 different states, according to an email from CSM Beyard last November.
CSM Beyard explained that TF AVCRAD executes the Theater Aviation Maintenance Program mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
He went on to explain: "Our soldiers are executing their mission at various locations including Camp Arifjan; the SPOD (Air Port/Sea Port of Debarkation operations) - to Udari Army Airfield at Camp Buehring, and Ali Al Salem Air Base, and Kuwait Naval Base in Kuwait. In addition to the work of the fix forward teams at Balad, Iraq and Bagram, Afghanistan, and (other locations in those countries.)"
TF AVCRAD also has a special connection with history. Just last December CSM Beyard emailed about a "Combat Patch Ceremony," which took place on December 18, 2006.
Of the combat patch he wrote: "It is patch with large A inside of black circle. This is a patch of Third Army, the combatant commander we fall under. Third Army is Patton's Army, in honor of General George Patton, Jr., and his command of Third Army in WWII."
CSM Beyard is a citizen soldier with the Maryland Army National Guard. He was called up for active duty in the Middle East in June 2006. This completes his second deployment. Previously he was one of six TF AVCRAD soldiers who completed a mission in Sinai, Egypt, in support of the Multinational Force and Observers.
In his civilian job, he is the director of planning and public works for the City of Westminster, a job he has held since he was hired by the City of Westminster on September 29, 1987. I worked with him for many years.
It was almost 20 years to the day he first joined Westminster that CSM Beyard learned of his award, the 4th highest award in the United States Army.
CSM Beyard with be returning home soon after having set foot in Kuwait on October 25th, 2006. He is expected to resume his civilian duties around November 1 after going on military leave from Westminster for over 15 months.
It was during the "Transfer of Authority" ceremony on October 5 that Brigadier General James L. Hodge, Commanding General, Army Materiel Command Southwest Asia and Director of Operational Sustainment, U.S. Army Central/Third Army, presented The Bronze Star Medal to Col. Timothy Gowen (of Leonardtown MD) and CSM Beyard, and another soldier.
In a recent email, CSM Beyard wrote: "Well, it is over for us. We successfully completed our Transfer of Authority ceremony this morning. The mission now belongs to the incoming unit made up of soldiers from Mississippi and Illinois."
Service to his country is second nature for CSM Beyard, who first enlisted on March 22, 1982, with the 357th Transportation Company, United States Army Reserve, in Greencastle, PA.
After he completed his Basic Combat Training at Ft. Dix, NJ, he completed Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Rucker, AL, graduating as a Utility Helicopter Repairer. He has been with aviation ever since.
He served in the U. S. Army Reserve until February 12, 1997, when he was released from the Reserves to join the Maryland Army National Guard, and joined the Mobilization AVCRAD Control Element at Edgewood.
In his recent email, it almost seemed as an after thought as he wrote: "And something very special happened to me. At the ceremony, I was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It is just a great honor and it reflects the outstanding work that our soldiers did since we got here. It was a proud moment to have the medal pinned on my collar. I must say that today was truly one of the highlights of my military career.
"When I entered the Army in 1982, little did I ever think that I would still be around today. Little did I ever think that I would make the rank of Command Sergeant Major. And little did I ever think that I would be a Command Sergeant Major of a unit that support(ed) the warfight in three different countries - Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Most units deploy either (to) Iraq or Afghanistan. But we supported the warfight in both countries, plus played a major role in Kuwait."
Not only should we admire CSM Beyard - for service and commitment - fighting in the Middle East, but we need to also recognize Westminster city government for supporting a member of the Maryland Army National Guard. The Guard simply could not do its part in defending our freedoms without the support of employers throughout the state such as the City of Westminster.
Employers have long cherished the exceptional employees they get when they hire a member of the National Guard. However, it comes with a "price" when they are deployed - especially with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where we have seen multiple deployments for long periods of time.
In the case of Westminster department head CMS Beyard, the director of planning and public works is responsible for all city activities, with the exception of finance and police. This includes well over 125 full and part-time employees with budgets totaling over $16 million. This equates to approximately 75% of all city employees and budget. Filling that void while he was deployed was not an easy task.
Please join me in celebrating CSM Beyard's accomplishments and service to our country - and the City of Westminster for its support of the Maryland Army National Guard. Join me in proudly celebrating the safe return of one our own citizen soldiers.
Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at: email@example.com