On Nov. 5, the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame will induct 17 new members, including retired Lt. Gen. Burton D. Patrick, a 1957 graduate of the University of North Georgia (UNG).
"I am really taken aback by this honor," Patrick said. "America is known for its goodness, and to me, America's efforts to recognize military veterans who have served this country for many years epitomizes that goodness. I just happen to be one of those many veterans."
The Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame was established in 2013, and since then a new class has been inducted each year. Patrick became the seventh UNG alumnus to be inducted so far.
Patrick began his college career in 1953, joining UNG's Corps of Cadets while also playing basketball and baseball all four years that he attended; he served as captain for both teams during his senior year. The very first night of his college experience, he met his future wife, Pat, at a dance to help new students get acquainted with each other.
He was commissioned into the Army as a second lieutenant on June 2, 1957. The next day, he traveled to Fort Benning and began his Army career.
Patrick's 31 years of service include three years in Germany and various posts throughout the U.S., including the Pentagon, where he served as a liaison officer to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees while assigned to the Office of The Chief Legislative Liaison. He had two combat tours in Vietnam, and traveled worldwide to direct Army upgrading, becoming one of a handful of men who have commanded at every level in the military, from platoon to Combined Field Army. He also served as commanding general of the elite 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, from 1985 to 1987. After being promoted to lieutenant general in May 1987, he returned to South Korea and assumed command of the world's only Combined Field Army until his retirement in July 1988.
"I received a great education at UNG. It's what propelled me into my military career, and if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing," Patrick said. "This induction is very humbling, but as I think back, it's the soldiers who served with and under me who deserve this honor; it's they who put those stars on my shoulders. I have a deep love for our soldiers, and I was blessed with wonderful subordinates. They are the reason I rose to the rank that I did. God, my wife and my alma mater are the reasons for my success."
This is not the first hall of fame to select Patrick. Also this year was the induction of the first class of the Army ROTC Hall of Fame. The first class was selected in honor of the 100th anniversary of the national ROTC program, and 300 former cadets, including Patrick, were honored for their lifetime achievements and service. Patrick also joined UNG's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
"General Patrick is among the finest Army officers our institution has produced during its entire history," said retired Col. Tom Palmer, commandant of UNG's Corps of Cadets. "His record of service speaks for itself, and the love he shows for his alma mater is truly remarkable. There is no finer alumnus that Lt. Gen. Burton Patrick."
Patrick's awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese Service Medal, three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, and other awards and badges.
Due to health concerns, Patrick will not be able to attend the induction ceremony; retired Col. Ben Malcolm, a 1950 UNG alumnus, will accept the award on his behalf, along with retired Maj. Gen. Jack Wheeler, a 1961 graduate.