Military Stalwart Honored

Military Stalwart Honored
March 21st, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: Military Stalwart Honored

Military Stalwart Honored
Boston Globe
March 21, 2009
Pg. 1

Marblehead man serves 65 years with Army - and keeps going
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON - Retired General Richard Trefry has come a long way since his days hiking around New England in the 1930s as a junior member of the Appalachian Mountain Club.
But yesterday, after Army leaders announced they were creating the Lieutenant General Richard G. Trefry Lifetime of Service Award, the Marblehead native credited those Depression-era excursions with preparing him for his journey as the longest-serving individual in the US Army - with 65 years of service and counting.
"Marblehead is well known as the birthplace of the US Navy," the 84-year-old Trefry said in accepting the award, recalling the reaction of some of his neighbors when he told them more than half a century ago he was going to attend West Point: "What the hell's wrong with you?"
His rejoinder: "I can walk 100 miles, but I'll be damned if I can swim it."
At a Pentagon ceremony yesterday, the Army secretary and chief of staff dubbed the irascible Trefry the "conscience of the Army" for his 40 years in uniform and 25 as a civilian employee and contractor - a span from World War II to the Iraq war in which he has shaped the character of the institution perhaps more than any individual, often as an outspoken critic.
And, he vowed yesterday, his work is not finished.
Trefry - who told the Globe he was "floored" and "deeply honored" by the award - still heads to his office each morning at Fort Belvoir, Va., where he founded the Army Force Management School, which teaches officers, enlisted leaders, and civilians how the massive organization ticks.
"He's trained a generation of leaders to understand how the Army runs," said Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, a retired general who attended the ceremony to honor one of his mentors. Shinseki likened Trefry to Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, the Prussian military officer who is credited with teaching the Continental Army the essentials of military discipline and drill during the Revolutionary War, key ingredients to ultimate victory - and American independence.
"He is a legend," said retired colonel Rick Kiernan. "He is truly an institution."
After graduating from Marblehead High School in 1942, Trefry was drafted as an enlisted soldier by the Army Air Forces, which posted him as a weather observer on the northeast coast of Greenland in the months leading up to the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944.
After the war, he graduated from West Point in 1950 and steadily rose through the officer ranks. He served in the Korean War, as an instructor at both the Army Artillery and Engineer schools, and as the defense attaché in Laos, among other high-profile and sensitive posts.
During a stint in the Army's personnel office, he helped overcome a devastating cheating scandal in 1976 at the US Military Academy at West Point.
His most enduring contribution, Army leaders say, came as Army Inspector General - the same post held by Von Steuben in the Continental Army - when he played a leading role in rebuilding the service after the Vietnam War severely eroded discipline and damaged the service's credibility. He retired from active duty in 1983. "He just keeps going and going. "Tref personifies duty, honor, country," retired General Carl Vuono, a former Army chief of staff, told the active-duty soldiers, civilians, and procession of graying retired officers and their spouses who came to pay tribute yesterday to the man they fondly call "Tref" and his wife of 40 years, Jackie.
The award in his name will be given to soldiers and civilians who "exemplify [General] Trefry's ethos and lifetime of extraordinary and selfless service to the Army" and who have "significantly impacted the Army at large through a longstanding commitment to innovation and leadership," according to the citation.
Now, perhaps more than anything else, Trefry serves as the Army's institutional memory. When officers and civilian staff members don't know the answer to something, they are often told to contact Tref at the Army Force Management School. His office at Fort Belvoir is filled with heavy tomes on military history, while the hallway outside is lined with what is dubbed "the mother of all charts" - no small feat in a bureaucracy that prides itself on briefing slides, graphs, and phone book-sized manuals.
In a timeline that takes up 80 panels, Trefry has painstakingly diagrammed the history of the Army from World War II to Iraq - replete with budget data, biographies, campaign histories, and weapons systems, in detail.
The lesson Trefry wants to impart is that the Army has tackled many of the challenges it now faces before - and that today's leaders could learn from past experience.
True to form, Trefry took the opportunity yesterday to offer some of his famous advice, bemoaning after the ceremony what he sees as a lack of interest among the ranks today to read, study, and seek professional development. "We fought to go to school," Trefry said. "This generation [of soldiers] fights to get out of school."
It's a message Trefry has every intention of repeating to his students for years to come.
"I'm not retiring," he told the audience yesterday. And in typical Trefry gallows humor, he then motioned behind him toward Arlington National Cemetery. "I hope I don't have to go across the street in an extra hurry."
March 22nd, 2009  
A Can of Man
WOW.... World War II to Iraq.
March 23rd, 2009  
He definately DESERVES to be honored!
Military Stalwart Honored
March 24th, 2009  
Wish I live to be his age.
March 24th, 2009  
Originally Posted by tomtom22
Wish I live to be his age.
Only 17 more years to go! You will make it!

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