Jefferson Burton

DRAPER—Jefferson Burton, the newly appointed Assistant Adjutant General-Army for Utah National Guard, is a bit of a Pollyanna.

He doesn't mind the moniker. In fact, he uses it to describe his willingness to serve others.

"There's a lot of cynicism in the world today," he said. "We need more people who are willing to get their hands dirty instead of being cynics."

Burton recently received a new opportunity to prove his willingness to serve when he was promoted Thursday to brigadier general in the Utah Army National Guard. In his new position, Burton will be responsible for the training and support of 5,200 Utahn soldiers.

Burton, a longtime resident of Payson, was initially reluctant to talk about his new promotion — not for the sake of national security but rather for reasons of modesty.

"It's not about me, it's an opportunity to serve," he said. "It sounds corny, but that's how I feel."

Burton said he wanted to pursue a career in the military service since he was a young boy. His father, a history teacher, weaned him on tales of great Americans such as the Founding Fathers.

Burton first enlisted as an artilleryman in 1982 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant two years later. From there, he moved through various ranks and divisions. In 2003, he led 450 troops as a commander of the 1457th Engineer Battalion during a deployment to Iraq.

With his new promotion, Burton has a chance to practice his "leaders are lovers" philosophy with the majority of Utah soldiers.

"You gotta love the people you lead or you won't be an effectual leader," he said.

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