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A Military Life: A Digital Diary

About this collection

A Military Life is a collection of photographs, medals and their accompanying citations, US Army insignia, military artifacts, letters, and sound recordings documenting the military career and life of Retired Colonel Johnnie P. Byrd and the implications of a life as an officer in the US Army on himself, his wife and their three children.  The collection serves as an engaging digital diary of historical and cultural significance illustrating through its items not only the factual information of Col. Byrd's life and career but also the commitment and sacrifices required of both himself and his family, particularly his wife, Mrs. Carolyn Mahaffey Byrd.  A Military Life is a valuable resource for military historians, educators, teachers, and students, and is also of particular interest to former and current members of the Armed Forces and their family members.

After completing the four year ROTC program at Mississippi State College (now University), 2nd Lieutenant Byrd began his career as a Field Artillery Officer in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Cambell, Kentucky in 1961.  He went to Sukiran, Okinawa in 1964 to serve in the 173d Airborne Brigade, which was the first Army ground combat unit in Vietnam.  After serving in Vietnam for a year, Captain Byrd returned to the US in 1966 to attend the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course at Fort Sill, OK.  Then in 1967, he became an Assistant Professor of Military Sciences at McNeese State College in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  After completing the Army Command and General Staff School in Fort Leavenworth, KS in 1970, he returned to Vietnam for a second tour of duty as a Direct Air Support Operations Officer at Military Assistance Command (MACV), Tactical Air Support Element.  He attended the University of Georgia in 1971, graduating with an MBA in 1973.  His next assignment was at U.S. Army Computer Systems Command serving as Automatic Data Processing Staff Officer, Tactical Fire Direction System (TACFIRE) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  In 1976, he was sent to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium as the Personal Advisor to the System Manager of the NATO Headquarters internal command and control system.  From there, he went to Wiesbaden, Germany in 1977 as Battalion Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery, a 155mm mechanized battalion with nuclear capabilities.  After his Battalion Command, Lieutenant Colonel Byrd returned to the US in 1980 to attend the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.  He then went to the US Army Computer Systems Command at Fort Belvoir, VA until 1984.  From 1984 to 1986, he worked at U.S. Army Military Personnel Center (MILPERCEN) in Alexandria, Virginia as Director of Automatic Data Processing Operations Directorate.  Colonel Byrd retired from the U.S. Army in April of 1986, after serving for 25 years.  Retired Colonel Byrd recieved 16 individual medals (including repeat awards - oak leaf clusters) during his career, 7 of which are included in this collection.

 

 
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