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NEWS | July 27, 2023

Kentucky Infantry officer promoted to brigadier general, receives first salute from his son

By Milt Spalding, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Kentucky Army National Guard Col. Joseph D. Lear was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in a ceremony held at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, July 26.


Lear, a resident of Bardstown, currently serves as the Director of the Joint Staff. In that role, he is the senior military officer responsible for assisting Kentucky’s Adjutant General in managing joint operations and coordinating activities between different branches of the military, ensuring that the Kentucky National Guard can effectively support state and federal missions.

Speaking to those assembled, Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Haldane B. Lamberton, said Lear’s promotion is well deserved.

“Joe is a quality Soldier and a quality person,” Lamberton said, as host of the event in Lear’s honor. “I expect he’ll be a quality general as well. I have no doubt that any task that we give him, he will get it done. He’s just a responsible person, and to me, that’s one of the key qualities that I respect.”

Lamberton looked back to a previous adjutant general to illustrate the significance of making it to the rank.

“Out of 2000 full colonels, only about 35 become general officers. So, it's a pretty narrow pipeline,” Lamberton said. “Not everybody becomes a general officer. We're a fairly small pyramid and it gets a lot narrower as we approach the pinnacle of it. Joe Lear, I think, gives us an example of the quality of the folks at that pinnacle.”

Lear expressed his appreciation to the senior leadership for the opportunity to continue to serve the organization.

“I fully realize how lucky and fortunate I am to be given the position,” Lear said. “There are probably a half dozen colonels in our organization who could be standing here today. I will work hard every day to earn it.”

Becoming a brigadier general is not something Lear thought he would ever experience. When he enlisted 37 years ago, Lear expected to serve 20 years and retire as a captain. Now, he claims serving in Kentucky has changed his perspective, as he looks forward to serving as long as possible.

The Kentucky Guard has become very special to him and his family.

“I’d like to thank Generals Lamberton, Howay, Wertzler and Gardner for giving me the opportunity to continue to serve our great organization,” he said. “This organization has contributed so much to my life, and I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to give back in this new role.”

In addition to senior leadership and fellow Service members, several members of Lear’s family were on hand to support him and participate in the event.

Lear’s wife, Serena, pinned the one-star rank on his uniform, and their son, Sgt. J.D. Lear, also a member of the KYARNG, was on hand to help with the unfurling of his father’s “One Star” flag.

It was a special day for all members of the Lear Family.

“It's something I'll always remember. Just the pride I felt being up there with him and how proud I was of him,” Sgt. Lear said. “I didn't realize it at the time, but I was the first one to be able to render a salute to him as a general and that's really special to me.”

Brig. Gen. Lear was honored and proud to have his son participate in the ceremony.

“It's just absolutely amazing,” Lear said. “I'm just so proud of his service. And to have him here, it's just beyond awesome, it really is.”

Lear is looking forward to getting out and visiting the troops where he can listen and talk about the future of the Kentucky National Guard—the organization he calls family.

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