Several hundred folks filled the 29th Division Hall at the Camp Fretterd Military Reservation in Reisterstown on Saturday, Jan. 12 to celebrate the retirement of Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas B. Beyard after 37 years of service.
There was standing-room only as Army and Air Force officers and enlisted men and women joined civilians, dignitaries, and folks from literally all over the world gathered to recognize the career and accomplishments of Beyard.
In addition to representatives from Estonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, present were Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Carroll County native daughter Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh, Westminster Common Council President Dr. Robert Wack, and Community Foundation of Carroll County Executive Director Audrey Cimino.
Also present were former Westminster Common Council President Suzanne Albert, Orphans Court Judge Peggy Bair, many former Westminster employees, and community leaders such as Ed Cramer, Barbara Potocki Sardi, Samantha Hemler-Parthree Schlitzer, Eric Schlitzer, Diane Jones, Aime and Jeff Pringle, Lori Graham, Lyndi McNulty, and Nikki Haschert.
“It was my honor to speak at the retirement ceremony of Command Sergeant Major Thomas Beyard, Senior Enlisted Leader of the Maryland National Guard this weekend,” said Rutherford on his Facebook page. “Throughout his career, Command Sergeant Major Beyard has proven time and again to be a leader, a soldier, and a public servant of the highest integrity and greatest character. On behalf of a grateful Maryland, thank you for your many years of dedicated service to our communities, our state, and our nation.”
Beyard is a 1973 graduate of South Hagerstown High School in Hagerstown and earned an degree from Hagerstown Junior College in 1973. He then went on to earn a degree from Towson State University in 1977.
Beyard, who retired from his work with the City of Westminster several years ago, served for many years as the director of planning and public works. He was hired by my late father-in-law, Westminster Council President David S. Babylon, Jr., on Sept. 29, 1987. Babylon always spoke very highly of Beyard. According to an interview with Babylon in 2006, Beyard always “maintained the consummate prerequisite knowledge, skills, and abilities to competently look after all the affairs of Westminster [well].”
Many years ago, the director of planning and public works was responsible for managing the city’s largest department. This department included everything from providing safe drinking water, street maintenance, snow removal, parks and recreation, solid waste and recycling collection, comprehensive planning, housing and community development and wastewater treatment. Additional responsibilities added over the years included economic development, code enforcement, particularly with the property maintenance code, and service for the city on various boards.
Beyard was responsible for all the city activities, with the exception of finance and police, in the 1990s and 2000s. This included well over 125 full- and part-time employees with budgets totaling over $16 million. This equated to approximately 75 percent of all city employees and budget.
At the ceremony Cimino said: “I knew Tom in his very essential role in the administration of Westminster Maryland city’s government. It is through that work I learned of his service with the Maryland National Guard. It is through … these two roles of his that we had the opportunity in 2002 for Westminster, Maryland and Paide, Estonia to become Sister Cities as part of a special partnership between the State of Maryland and the Republic of Estonia.
“The goals of the partnership include exchanges of culture, business, government, education, and official projects. The Community Foundation of Carroll County, Inc. is proud to be part of this partnership with our Special Purpose Fund called the Westminster Paide Sister City Fund. This fund was established and funded by donations from private citizens, businesses, organizations, and fund-raising. It supports the activities of our Sister City Program…”
In an email interview with McNulty after the retirement ceremony, she said she “knew Tom Beyard when he ran the City of Westminster when there was no city administrator.”
“At city council meetings he could answer almost any question at hand from zoning to water and the city council depended on his expertise. I flew to Estonia with him on the Sister City exchange and consulted on the nation’s museum. He was truly a hero there and still is, treated as a dignitary. He did so much to promote understanding, peace, freedom, and unity between two countries and to help show them the way to being an independent country. He was sorely missed when he was sent to Iraq, twice, but made Westminster proud. He is a good friend and a good citizen.”
In full disclosure, it was over 30 years ago, in the late 1980s, when I began working with Beyard in several different capacities. Long before I became a Westminster elected official on May 10, 1999 — and shortly after Beyard arrived on the job — I met him when I was a member of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources District Conservancy Board (1988–1991). The Conservancy Board worked with Beyard on some issues that had developed as the Maryland State Highway Administration planned to rebuild Westminster’s East Main Street.
Service to his country is second nature for CSM Beyard who first enlisted on March 22, 1982 with the 357th Transportation Company, United States Army Reserve, in Greencastle, Pennsylvania.
After he completed his Basic Combat Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1982, he completed Advanced Individual Training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, graduating as a Utility Helicopter Repairer and has been with aviation ever since.
He served in the U. S. Army Reserve until Feb. 12, 1997 when he was released from the Reserves to join the Maryland Army National Guard and joined the Mobilization Task Force Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD) Control Element in Edgewood.
“My friend and retired CSM Tom Beyard sure is loved!” said Lori Graham on her Facebook page. “All his colleagues spoke about the many miles traveled and lessons learned along the way. Stories of two tours in the Middle East to Tom’s words on survival as a leader were astounding. As the Lt. Governor said, Tom is a great Marylander and the best example of an American… During Tom’s speech he said ‘Sometimes you have to be committed to other people’s goals. When you believe in them, they believe in themselves…’”
In an interview with Beyard in October 2007 right after he was awarded the Bronze Star, Beyard said, “When I entered the Army in 1982, little did I ever think that I would still be around today. Little did I ever think that I would make the rank of Command Sergeant Major? And little did I ever think that I would be a Command Sergeant Major of a unit that support the warfight in three different countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. Most units deploy either Iraq or Afghanistan. But we supported the warfight in both countries, plus played a major role in Kuwait.”
Please join me in celebrating Beyard’s accomplishments and service to our community and our country, and the City of Westminster for its support of the Maryland Army National Guard. Join me in congratulating one of our own citizen soldiers upon a well-deserved retirement.