John A. George was promoted to brigadier general Tuesday during a ceremony at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes.
But the longtime Army officer knows he’s outranked when he comes back to his parents’ home in Spartanburg. And it’s not his father, retired Col. Jim George, who is in charge either.
“We know who runs the place and that’s mom,” the Army’s latest one-star general said during a phone call from Washington D.C.
Brig. Gen. George, the son of Jim and Jackie George, entered select company when he received his first star from Lt. Gen. Robert P. Lennox, who presided over the ceremony. There are only about 230 general officers in the Army.
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“Today was a great opportunity for me,” Brig. Gen. George said. “I’m so proud to be a soldier and proud of our Army.”
Family from Spartanburg, Florida and Hawaii made the trip to Washington for the ceremony, which marks the latest military achievement for the George family.
An older brother, James Jr., retired as an Army colonel. The elder George also retired as a colonel after a 28-year career that included two stints in Vietnam and a Silver Star – the military’s third highest award for valor – for actions during the Battle of Ong Thanh in 1967.
Both George sons graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, with Brig. Gen. George being part of the class of 1988.
The George family’s ties to Spartanburg include both Jim and Jackie George, who graduated from Wofford and Converse colleges, respectively.
While deployed during the Vietnam War, the family lived in Spartanburg, and Jackie George worked at Spartanburg Day School.
The pair moved back for good in 1992 and are active members of Second Presbyterian Church.
Brig. Gen. George said he was too young to have too many memories of Spartanburg, but said his children “salivate” over the thought of The Beacon Drive-In during family trips.
Jim George said his son is a “good man” with “good core values” and called him a “servant leader” who puts the needs of soldiers ahead of his own.
“We feel blessed,” he said of Tuesday’s ceremony. “The Army’s done a good thing today.”
“I was hoping no one saw me crying,” he added.
Brig. Gen. George said the ceremony means a lot because it allows him to continue serving.
“I certainly didn’t think I would ever be a general,” he said. “But I am really happy just to be a soldier.”
The general officer said he was inspired by his father to join the military and by the West Point cadets he saw when his family lived at the U.S. Military Academy when his father taught there.
After graduating, Brig. Gen. George served at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Carson, Colo. He also served in Turkey, Kosovo and deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 to work with Afghan police.
He was nominated for his latest rank by President Barack Obama in July, and currently serves as director of Joint and Integration within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8 – the Pentagon body that ensures soldiers have the needed resources to perform their duties.