Jefferson S. Burton

2021 Honoree

U.S. Army / Utah Army National Guard
Europe / Iraq

As a teenager, Major General Jeff Burton carried around a copy of the Constitution in his pocket every day.  In 1982, he enlisted in the Utah Army National Guard to “support and defend the Constitution” as part of the 140th Field Artillery Battalion.  After becoming a Distinguished Military Graduate from Brigham Young University (BYU) ROTC program in 1984, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.  Burton served six years on active duty in the Military Police Corps, with assignments in the 204th Military Police Company in Europe and 4th Infantry Division in Colorado.  He returned to the Utah Guard and transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers in 1991.  In assignments that followed, he served as an Operations Officer, Logistics Officer, Company Commander, Intelligence Officer, Plans Officer, and Executive Officer in multiple engineer units, as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at BYU, and as the Commanding Officer of the Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

In August 2002, Burton took command of the 1457th Engineer Combat Battalion, which deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2003.  The battalion neutralized improvised explosive devices, destroyed thousands of munitions buried across the country, and built and repaired bridges across the Tigris River.  They worked while snipers targeted them and temperatures were as high as 148 degrees.  Despite the harsh hostile conditions, Burton brought all 450 of his Soldiers home.  Some were wounded, but remarkably none were lost.

After returning from Iraq in May 2004, Burton served in many command and senior staff assignments, and he attended the Army War College and multiple other military schools.  In 2012, Burton was promoted to Major General and appointed as the Adjutant General (TAG) for Utah.  As the TAG, Burton was responsible for the training and mobilization of more than 7,500 Soldiers in the Utah Army National Guard and Airmen in the Air National Guard.  He retired in November 2019, following 37 years of service.  Among his decorations are two Legion of Merit awards, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and four Meritorious Service Medals.

MG Burton is a patriot and also a servant leader.  To this day, he still carries a list comprising the 18 names of Utah Guard members killed or badly wounded in action. Upon his retirement, he said, “I’ve spent most of my adult life in uniform and never thought of my service as a job, it was a calling.  We do it for love and not for money.  For me, soldiers are the most noble people on the planet, and I will continue to advocate  for our men and women in uniform wherever I go.”