The U.S. Army Infantry School has a brand new star.
COL Bryan Owens, the organization’s commandant since October, was promoted to brigadier general Aug. 16 in a ceremony at the Benning Conference Center. Guests came from 14 states — VIPs included LTG(R) Hal Moore, COL(R) Ralph Puckett, Columbus mayor Jim Wetherington and several past Fort Benning commanders.
“This ceremony is steeped in the history of our Army,” said MG Michael Ferriter, the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning commanding general. “Today, we mark a huge milestone in the career of Bryan Owens. It’s really great to see this incredible turnout for this momentous occasion.
“To all those out there who want to know what right looks like, they need only to look at Bryan Owens. He sets the standard and leads by example day in and day out.”
Monday’s event was certainly a family affair for Owens, who’s been at Fort Benning since May 2009. His wife, Jen, joined Ferriter in pinning the star on his uniform.
Daughter Ashley presented him with a 9 mm Beretta, the general officer pistol, while the general officer belt and service cap were handed over by daughters Stephanie and Rachel, respectively.
“What a journey this has been for the past 27 years,” Owens said.
“There’s been so many Soldiers, noncommissioned officers, fellow officers and senior leaders who deserve the credit for any successes I have had … I’d be here all day if I mentioned everyone that’s carried me in their rucksack along the way.
“It’s a very large milestone in a career, but really, it’s about serving Soldiers, and it doesn’t matter what rank you are to serve Soldiers. It just means a greater responsibility at a higher level. My focus will continue to have Soldiers prepare for combat and embody the warrior ethos here at Fort Benning, and be prepared to go into combat and fight and win.”
Owens was commissioned as an Infantry second lieutenant through the ROTC program at Indiana (Pa.) University, where he was a distinguished military graduate in 1983. He has commanded Airborne Infantry units at the company, battalion and brigade levels and deployed for operations Just Cause in Panama, Desert Storm/Desert Shield during the Gulf War, and Joint Guardian in Kosovo. The general also took part in 2005 military relief efforts along the Gulf Coast following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In the past decade alone, Owens and his family moved five times — and he’s made four deployments.
From September 2006 to November 2007, Owens was commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team during a grueling 15-month deployment to Tikrit, Iraq. The task force lost 70 Soldiers, and another 391 suffered “life-changing wounds,” he said.
At the ceremony, Owens thanked his spouse for taking care of their girls while he was away and lending support to other Army families.
“Jen was there for those families and their leaders, a difficult task overlooked by many who haven’t had to deal with so much,” he told the audience.
The commandant praised the Infantry School team he’s served with at Fort Benning:
“You do so much with so little while maintaining the highest standards, showing the 51 percent of the Army that comes through our gates what right looks like.”Ferriter said Owens is the “right leader at the right time” to help guide the post through its transition to the Maneuver Center, punctuated by the Armor School’s move from Fort Knox, Ky.
“Where do these men come from?” Ferriter asked. “Credit goes to those who taught us along the way, and most importantly, those NCOs who carried us on their shoulders throughout our careers … (But) winners leave clues, so watch the winners and emulate the good clues.
“Winners work hard, and they do what’s right. Winners seek self-improvement, and winners build teams. Winners usually marry the girl they love, and they only love the girl they married, and they pay attention to their kids. Winners believe there are things bigger in life than self … Bryan is a winner who has done everything the right way.”