Kentucky Welcomes Guard’s Newest General

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Video of pinning ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IWaDH3msLY

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Whether its lying in a hide spot for days on a mission for a counterdrug operation or occupying an office handling issues on behalf of the organization and its Soldiers, this new mission oriented general brings a laser-like focus to his job.

For all the photos from the event, please click HERE.

Now his focus and drive have afforded him an opportunity to make an impact on the organization in a new way.

Col. Bryan Howay, Chief of Staff for the Kentucky Army National Guard, was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General during a ceremony at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. Oct. 19, 2019. Brig. Gen. Howay now assumes the position of the Director of the Joint Staff.

“We get to promote a Soldier today, a man I’ve known for more than 22 years both professionally and personally,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Hogan, Kentucky’s Adjutant General. “His foundation and his influence in the organization make him the perfect fit for this position. He is a man that will never quit and that’s what we need, that’s who we have.”

Service to Country

Without any immediate family having an influence on him to join the military, he said he just “always felt a strong calling to the military.”

“I feel blessed to have made it this far,” remarked Howay. “I remember working on my military schooling as a Major and thinking I’d never end up where I am today.”

Howay served four years on active duty before he decided to go to college. He was hired as a teacher after he graduated and taught at a middle school in Louisville before he decided to get back to his military service and join the Kentucky National Guard.

He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry upon completion of Officer Candidate School in 1993 and in 1998, Howay was afforded an opportunity for a full time job in the Guard with the Joint Service Operations, Counter Drug.

 “It was good work and very rewarding,” Howay said. “Every day you can make a difference in the community. We had that opportunity and we took advantage of it.”

At 36, Howay was given the opportunity to attend U.S. Army Ranger School. He was the first one to go from the Infantry Battalion and first one to pass in the state.

Usually Soldiers that go to the Ranger School are in their mid-twenties but Howay says it was age that actually gave him an advantage during his time there.

“It was challenging, but I was prepared,” said Howay. “I had a lot of experience on the guys, so that helped incredibly.”

As for what sets him apart from other Soldiers, he credits a focus on mission success and determination.  

“I believe I’m disciplined and have a bias towards mission accomplishment. Every mission I’ve been given, I set out to complete.”

Personal life

“I’d have to say that one of my most cherished memories of my military career is when I got to go back to Fort Benning and put my blue cord on my son as he went through Basic during their ‘Turning Blue’ ceremony after he graduated infantry AIT (Advanced Individual Training).”

Howay and his wife Sharon have two sons, Travis and Ethan.

While his oldest son has finished his military service already, Howay’s youngest son is strongly considering serving in the military as well.


With all of his duties and responsibilities, free time does not often present itself, but when he gets a chance, Howay enjoys being active and keeping his mind active.

“I read a lot. I love to ride dirt bikes, though I don’t do it as much as I would like. I play hockey in a men’s league in Louisville,” said Howay. “Other than that I work around the house, fix cars and enjoy a little bourbon.”

Goals going forward

There are a few things now that, as a general, Howay would like Soldiers still serving to understand.

In order to be successful in this organization, it takes a few things to set you apart in this organization:

  • Character –If you’re going to be a leader in this organization, you have to be a person of high character; never stop moving forward.
  • Competence- You have to be a good Soldier and do the fundamentals properly. It starts with physical fitness, you have to be in shape for the job and know how to affect your weapon systems. People will smell you out and know if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
  • Committed Service- You have to be willing to do things that are uncomfortable at times and will take you out of your comfort zone. 

What’s next

As for what is on the horizon, Howay is open to taking on bigger challenges but he isn’t in a hurry to move too quickly.

“I am committed to work with the state and drive the vision that we have now forward and keep moving the state up the chart,” said Howay.  I’m all in. I love what I do, I love the people I work with and as long as that’s the case I am very happy where I’m at and what I’m doing.”

History

Brig. Gen. Howay has served as the Commander of Echo Company 1/149th Infantry, C Company 1/149th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, 75th Troop Command and most recently as the Chief of Staff for the Kentucky Army National Guard.

He has been deployed twice and participated in Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia/Herzegovina during 2002-2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006-2007 and Operation New Dawn in 2011-2012.

His military education includes the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Armor Officer

Advanced Course, Combined Arms Staff School, Intermediate Level Education Course and the Army War College.

He also holds a Bachelors of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in Education both from the University of Louisville; and a Master of Strategic Studies from the Army War College.

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