HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. — Harnett County Commissioner Teddy Byrd recently returned from Iraq after serving military duty. He said he is now readjusting to civilian life.
Byrd said he is rich with pride over what he and his Garner-based Reserve unit accomplished in Iraq.
"Our unit provided logistical support for 50,000-plus soldiers in the whole southern portion of Iraq," he said.
In his 19 years as an Army reservist, the 41-year-old never deployed. Last year was finally his time. He left his family and two jobs behind. His wife handled their insurance business and the Harnett Board of Commissioners went on without its chairman. Byrd was now a full-time soldier.
"It was difficult not knowing when I was coming home," he said.
A six-month deployment turned into eight months, then a year. His camp took mortar fire 13 nights in a row. He worked with multinational troops, helped rebuild Tallil Air Force Base and spent time in ancient Babylon.
The commissioner from Coats earned a bronze star and was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Despite his accomplishments, there is sadness.
"I've had friends die over there," he said.
Byrd returns home to a boardroom in a new courthouse. Even though he has not attended a meeting in more than a year, his fellow commissioners reappointed him board chairman.
From serving America to serving the residents of Harnett County, Byrd is ready to settle back in at home with a broader respect for the Reserves and the National Guard.
"We are all volunteers. It's a tough job," he said.
Byrd will be back in his commission chair in mid-April. He is taking a few weeks off to spend with his family.