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Ironton man promoted to brigadier general

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii — As the sun rises and the day unfolds, stars seemingly disappear from the sky; however, one new star is left in plain sight for all to see.

Col. Jeffery Underhill, commanding general, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC), was promoted to brigadier general, Wednesday.

During his remarks at the promotion ceremony, Underhill, an Ironton native, cited many positions in his career that have allowed him to grow into a leader.

One position in particular was serving as the aide-de-camp for the former Chief of Staff of the Army and current Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Eric Shinseki.

“He (Shinseki) has always been my leadership role model since I was a senior major, and I have yet to match up to his exceptional leadership abilities,” Underhill said, during his remarks.

The Army noncommissioned officer corps also played a big role in helping Underhill get to where he is today.

“I can count on both hands those who have had a profound effect on me throughout my career. I have had the opportunity to be mentored by the best,” Underhill said. “Predominately senior noncommissioned officers, they have all made me what I am today more than any other influence throughout my career.”

During Underhill’s remarks, it was evident that family was a driving factor for his success, too. Underhill thanked his mother and spoke fondly of his father, who also served and died on active duty in the U.S. Air Force when Underhill was 16 years old.

“I owe him a debt of gratitude for shaping me as a young teenager and giving me the opportunity to find my niche in life,” he said.

Last, he thanked his former high school sweetheart and wife of more than 25 years, the former Kelli Bamer, who is also an Ironton native.

“You are always the boss regardless of what rank I pin on. … Thank you for the sacrifice you’ve made over the years for me and our family,” said Underhill.

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commanding general, U.S. Army-Pacific (USARPAC) administered the promotion. Mixon’s remarks made it clear that he had the upmost confidence in the abilities and skills that Underhill brings to the 94th AAMDC and the USARPAC team.

“Jeff (Underhill) assumed command of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command last June, bringing his vast knowledge of air defense capabilities and operations in addition to his experience in senior staff positions. (He) demonstrated ability to command and lead Soldiers,” said Mixon. “The secret of his success is the empowerment of his first, second and third line leaders.”

Mixon continued, “Jeff, opportunity may have given you a great start, but it is your ability to lead, train and mentor soldiers that has resulted in your selection for promotion into the general officer ranks. We are very proud and fortunate to have you on the team.”