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NEWS | March 7, 2016

Epperly promoted to brigadier general during Fort Belvoir ceremony

By Lt. Col. Tim Donnellan | 29th Infantry Division

Col. John M. Epperly, Deputy Commanding General, Maneuver, of the Virginia National Guard’s 29th Infantry Division was promoted to brigadier general March 5, 2016, at the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Club.

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Willliams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, presided over the promotion ceremony.

“I am honored to be part of the greater family of the 29th Division, the Virginia National Guard and our brothers and sisters in the Maryland National Guard,” said Williams.

Epperly was promoted by his two sons, Matthew and Michael. His parents, retired Sgt. 1st Class Charles Epperly and wife, Barbara Epperly, presided over the unfurling of his General Officer Flag.

Epperly’s comments focused on his gratitude for the support he has received throughout his prestigious career.

“I am going to speak from the heart,” said Epperly. “I want to give thanks. First, I want to thank God for you do not get here without divine providence.”

“I want to thank my family. I started dating my wife when I was a cadet second class, and could not have had a better life partner for this journey. My wife has been the quintessential Army wife, from active duty, to the National Guard, to my first combat tour. I cannot thank her enough, she is a remarkable woman. She gave us our sons, two of the finest sons you can imagine. They have done so many things at a young age, things that I could have never done and will never be able to do in my entire life.

“As for my parents, many of you knew my father before you knew me who. He served as a Marine in Vietnam, and retired as a sergeant first class from the Virginia National Guard. I grew up in the shadow of the 116th [Infantry Brigade]. It was the family business. There was a time when my father was serving, my brother was serving, and we were all in the same battalion. It was a magical time for me as an officer and as a son. My brother Rob and sister Amy have been wonderful supporters over the years. My in-laws allowed me to stay with them 28 years ago, to court their daughter and later marry her.

“I want to thank my military family. It has been a fantastic ride. I spent eight and half years on active duty and came into the Guard in 1997 and what a great thing it was as I was able to return home to Virginia and command the rifle company in Radford, the very place in which I grew up,” said Epperly.

In a room filled with family, friends, and Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division, Epperly graciously recognized both supervisors and subordinates who played a pivotal role in his career.

“I have had the opportunity to be taken care of by a lot of great men in my career and it has taught me a lesson that when things are going well you need to send the elevator back down for those to come up behind you. I will tell you that in today’s Army we have a lot of challenges, but the one thing that gives me great hope is the outstanding talent of those coming behind us.

“The folks who make the National Guard are the employers. Without them we can’t do our job. Without the ability to deploy and come back to our jobs, the whole system falls in on its self.

“Thank you all for being here, it means the world to me. I have enjoyed being your fellow officer, your co-worker, your husband, your father, your brother, your son, and your friend,” concluded Epperly.

Brig. Gen. John M. Epperly was born at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in 1966. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering and international relations from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Additionally, he holds an MBA in finance from Drexel University and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College (Class of 2010).

Epperly began his military career in May 1989, receiving an Army commission through West Point as an Armor and Cavalry officer. He held various assignments with the 194th Armored Brigade (separate), 10th Cavalry, and 70th Armored regiments. He was assigned as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1997, Epperly left active duty and joined the Virginia Army National Guard, transferring to the infantry where he served as rifle company commander, battalion operations officer, battalion executive officer, and brigade operations officer.

Epperly assumed command of 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade on March 2003 and in 2005 led the unit in support of Operation Vigilant Relief to assist civil authorities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Following the 116th Infantry Brigade’s transformation to a brigade combat team, Epperly took command of 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team on Dec. 1, 2005, and later deployed the battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 3-116th was recognized with both the Reckord Trophy and Kerwin Award as the best National Guard battalion in the U.S. Army during training year 2007 in addition to earning a Meritorious Unit Commendation.

He was then assigned as the G3 and Assistant Chief of Staff for the 29th Infantry Division. Following two years as Division G3, Epperly was assigned as the commander of the Joint National Guard Augmentation Element to U.S. Joint Forces Command where he supported numerous deployments and exercises in the Joint Warfighting Center.

Following this joint assignment in 2011, he returned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, “The Stonewall Brigade,” as its commanding officer. Following brigade command, Epperly was assigned as the G3 Operations for the 29th Infantry Division at Fort Belvoir.

Currently, he is assigned as the Division Deputy Commanding General – Maneuver where, in November 2015, his expertise helped lead the division to a highly successful Warfighter Exercise with XVIII Airborne Corps.

Epperly’s military education includes the Airborne School, Air Assault School, Armor Officers Basic Course, Scout Platoon Leader’s Course, Infantry Mortar Leader’s Course, Armor Officers Advanced Course, CAS3, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College.

His awards and decorations include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault badge, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with 2 OLC, the Army Commendation Medal with 3 OLC, the Joint Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with 1 OLC, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with 3 OLC, the National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M device and Bronze Hourglass device, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, The Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Virginia Bronze Star, the Virginia Commendation Medal, the Governor’s Medal, and the Order of Saint Maurice (Primercerius).

Epperly resides in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and  is employed as the Executive Vice President of Operations at Veris Group LLC in Vienna, Virginia, which provides cyber security professional services.

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