Speeches

Mr./Madam President,

I rise today to honor Major General Jeff Burton, Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard, for his many years of devoted service to our nation and the great state of Utah.

As he closes a long chapter of 37 years of military service, he leaves behind a tremendous legacy as an American patriot and a true servant-leader. And so I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to that legacy today.

From a young age, General Burton knew that he wanted to follow in his family’s footsteps by serving his faith and his country. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a Canadian Indian reservation, braving harsh conditions that would well-prepare him for his military service.

As soon as he returned home, he enrolled at Brigham Young University, where he enlisted in the National Guard as an artillery field soldier. He joined BYU’s ROTC program, receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1984.

He completed tours with the U.S. Army Military Police Corps in Alabama; with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado; and with the 7th U.S. Corps in Germany, where he witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 1991, General Burton left the army and returned home to join the Utah National Guard, where he served in a variety of distinguished leadership positions over the next decade.

Chief of among them was commanding the 1457th Engineer Combat Battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of the initial ground war.

He and his troops were tasked with searching for and eliminating explosives, improving embassy security, and responding to bombings. They were often the first ones on the scene of an explosion. In honor of his heroic service there, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

General Burton was appointed assistant adjutant general of the Utah Guard in 2008, promoted to brigadier general just a few months after, and then made major general and adjutant general in 2012.

In this role, General Burton has trained and equipped more than 7,000 soldiers under his command to respond to challenges in both military and civilian life.

He has prepared them not only to fight our nation’s wars and provide military support to our troops throughout the world, but to combat wildfires, respond to natural disasters, and ensure law and order in our communities. Under his leadership, they have performed at an exceptional caliber.

When the 100,000-soldier surge in Afghanistan ended in 2012, General Burton was also responsible for overseeing the needs of the soldiers returning home from the war. He rose to the challenge, tending to both the physical and emotional needs of these warriors and their families with the utmost care.

As he himself has once said, “May we make a silent promise to keep the faith with our battle buddies and wingmen… May we be strong for one another, and unashamedly rush to the aid of those in need. May we remember those who have suffered grievous wounds in the defense of liberty, and may we never forget those who have given the ultimate sacrifice within our formations so that we might live in freedom.”

General Burton has lived by these words over his long and dedicated career.

Every day, he keeps a note tucked into the band of his hat that lists the names of the men who were killed in combat or during 9/11 under his command.

He has led by example, never asking of his men something he himself has not done; and he has led in order to serve, striving always to protect the welfare of his command and our country.

And so it is only fitting that we honor him today.

On behalf of our nation and all Utahns, I thank General Burton for the sacrifices he has made to secure the freedoms we hold dear. I congratulate him on this occasion, and wish him many happy years ahead with his wife Charn and their children.

I yield the floor.