LTC Milada Copeland,
right, listens to remarks during
her and her husband's
promotion ceremony June 17.
Utah — A Utah National Guard wife and husband, LTC
Milada A. Copeland and LTC
French, both of Sandy,
Utah, were promoted to colonel in a recent
ceremony at the Utah Guard headquarters here.
Copeland enlisted in the Utah
Army National Guard in 1985 and was commissioned as a
Field Artillery officer in 1988. Subsequently she
transitioned to the Engineer Corps, where she has served
as an operations officer, logistics officer, executive
officer, commander of the 115th Engineer
Battalion and deputy commander of the 204th
Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
French joined the Utah Army
Guard’s 1457th Engineers as a heavy-wheeled
vehicle mechanic in 1985. He received his commission as
an Engineer officer in 1990. During his career he has
served as a platoon leader, training officer, executive
officer, commander of the 1457th Engineer
Battalion and deputy commander of the 115th
Major General Brian L. Tarbet,
adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, spoke at
the promotion gathering and offered a description of the
Army’s efficiency at promoting a single officer, let
alone pinning two simultaneously.
COL William French
thanks his colleagues at the
conclusion of his and
his wife's promotion ceremony.
"I want to take full credit
for the elaborate choreography that allowed these two
officers to be promoted on the same day," said Tarbet,
tongue in cheek. "It is serendipity, and it’s a great
occasion for the Utah Guard to recognize both of you
Tarbet then pointed to the
dozens of fellow officers and Soldiers in the
"This room today is filled
with mentors and colleagues, and you both know that’s
why you’re here," he reminded them, "because they took
the time to teach you, to worry about your career and
labor with you as you learned the art of soldiering."
and French were then invited up to the stage as the
promotion order was read, and then they pinned each
other in another elaborately choreographed maneuver
worthy of Army Engineers that was captured on
this year Copeland returned from service in Kuwait in
support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom
as a member of the Army Central Command staff. Her
current assignment is as full-time comptroller for the
United States Property and Fiscal Office at the Utah
Guard’s Draper headquarters.
LTCs William French,
and Milada Copeland pin colonel rank
on each other in
an "elaborately choreographed" maneuver.
In 2003-2004 French deployed
with the 1457th Engineer Battalion in support
of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is currently assigned to
Joint Forces Headquarters, Utah National Guard, as chief
of Training Branch.
When invited to offer some
remarks at the ceremony, Copeland recognized her
colleagues for their mentoring and support.
"I thank my friends in
uniform," she said. "There is no way I would be standing
here if it weren’t for you guys and gals."
She singled out two
individuals in attendance who had helped her at key
times in her career: retired CSM Craig Hone and retired
COL Linda Higgins.
Copeland recalled Hone’s words
to her on a day many years ago when things weren’t going
so well: "Someday you are going to make [colonel], and
when you do, I’ll be there to celebrate your promotion
no matter where I’m at."
Hone made good on his promise,
flying in from Ukraine, where he is employed, with only
a week’s notice.
Copeland also acknowledged
Higgins, who was the first nonmedical female officer to
be promoted to colonel in the Utah Guard and who
commanded 97th Troop Command, the same unit
that Copeland will lead beginning in September.
Newly minted COLs French
and Copeland share
a laugh after their
pinning ceremony June 17.
"I’m very honored to be
following in her footsteps," she said.
French was equally
appreciative of the many in attendance who had helped
him over the years.
"It’s so amazing to come to
work every day to a job you love," he said. "Within the
confines of the Guard are the best people you will meet.
French, with a smile, also
expressed gratitude for the mentoring provided to him
along the way by his seasoned enlisted colleagues.
"I would like to thank all
senior NCOs who came into my office, closed the door and
said, ‘Sir, what the hell were you thinking?’"
Last of all, French thanked
his wife and fellow colonel, Milada.
"When I deployed," he
explained, " I had three day’s notice. I would have left
with [just my uniform] if she hadn’t packed my stuff,"
he admitted, to the laughter of the audience. "We
couldn’t do it without each other."