NEWS | Aug. 12, 2021

Utah National Guard and the Honorary Colonels Corps 59th Annual Bronze Minuteman Awards Dinner

By Lt. Col. Jaime Thomas Utah National Guard

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah National Guard and the Honorary Colonels Corps will host the 59th Annual Bronze Minuteman Awards Dinner Thursday, August 12, in Salt Lake City.

At the event, Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, and Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Brian Tarbet, commander Honorary Colonels Corps will present Bronze Minuteman awards to Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Jeff Burton, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Larry Lunt, Mr. Joe Rupp, Ms. Jackie Sexton, Ms. Susan Sheehan and Mr. Kevin Smith for their individual, devoted service to and leadership among the citizens of Utah.

“The members and trustees of the Honorary Colonels Corps of Utah have anticipated the return of this momentous gathering for two years now. We will again have the opportunity to recognize six community leaders who have provided  extraordinary support to the Utah National Guard or state of Utah,” said Larry Schmidt, Honorary Colonels Corps Board of Trustees secretary.

The Honorary Colonels Corps of Utah is the sponsor of the event. The corps is an organization that promotes goodwill and positive relations between the National Guard and local Utah communities. Members provide annual support for Utah Army and Air National Guard activities such as the Freedom Academy and Veterans Day Concert.

Here is a short summary of each recipient’s accomplishments (listed alphabetically):

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Jeff Burton, previous adjutant general Utah National Guard, served in the U.S. Army and Utah National Guard for more than 37 years. He began as a private and ultimately attained the rank of major general, retiring in November of 2019. He commanded the 1457th Engineer Combat Battalion during the initial phase of the Iraq War. He returned to the Middle East six times to support deployed troops. He has served on Gov. Gary Herbert’s Cabinet twice. First as the Commanding General of the Utah Army and Air National Guard, and then as the Interim Director of the Utah Department of Health during the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has served as an assistant and adjunct professor at both Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University, where he taught Military Science and National Security Strategy. He holds degrees from the State University of New York, at Albany; The United States Army War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and the University of Phoenix at Chandler, Arizona. He currently serves at Zion’s Bank as the senior vice president for Community Development and Military Relations. He was elected in January of 2021 to serve District 66 as a member of the State Legislature. He and his wife, Charn, live in Salem and have three children and seven grandchildren.

Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Larry Lunt, Honorary Colonel Corps of Utah, was a member of the Utah Air National Guard for 36 years from 1967 to 2003 where he flew missions beginning with the Vietnam War and concluding with the War on Terror. He also led the Utah Air Nation Guard’s response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and led the UTANG in their responsibilities for the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics. As chairman of the Utah Republican Party, he worked with Maj. Gen. (Ret.) John Matthews to obtain the support of Gov. Norm Bangerter, Utah’s Congressional delegation, the National Guard Bureau, and the Utah Legislature for the acquisition of a new headquarters building for the Utah National Guard in Draper. While serving as chairman of the Board of Trustees Southern Utah University he obtained approval from Southern Utah University to establish and sponsor what has proven to be an outstanding Army ROTC program. As a member of the Utah House of Representatives assigned to the Capital Facilities Committee which had the responsibility to recommend funding for Utah’s portion of capital improvements and ongoing maintenance for National Guard facilities throughout Utah. He sponsored legislation that enabled the construction of the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. He authored the Utah Good Samaritan Act which limits the liability of a person who is willing to help others in times of need and danger. He helped establish a partnership between the Utah National Guard and the Boy Scouts of America, Great Salt Lake Council for the annual Scouting for Food. He also worked as a liaison officer, United States Air Force Academy; chairman, Utah Alcohol Beverage Control Commission; Board of Directors of the Utah Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge; member of the Utah Aeronautics Commission; Board of Directors of the University of Utah Emeritus Alumni Association; and volunteers at University of Utah Hospital and Huntsman Cancer Hospital. Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Lunt has been married to Susan Child Lunt for 52 years; they have six children and 26 grandchildren.

Mr. Joe Rupp, a board member of the Young Lawyer Division of the Utah State Bar, retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marine Corps after 27 years of service in both officer and enlisted ranks. As a Sergeant in the infantry, he completed the Platoon Leaders Class program, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, went on active duty, and became a Marine Aviator, flying both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft for more than 20 years. Mr. Rupp completed a combat tour in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was selected as the Commandant of the Marine Corps Fellow to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he obtained a master’s degree in International Security Studies. Following his military career, Joseph returned to Utah to attended law school at the University of Utah, where he distinguished himself as the top clinical student in his graduating class. He continues to support and defend the Constitution as a criminal defense attorney at Collins Rupp, P.C. His public service activities include serving as a board member of Young Lawyer Division for the Utah State Bar Association, planning commissioner for Woods Cross City, and as the director and program coordinator for the Veterans Legal Clinic held at the Salt Lake VA. He is married to the former Jennifer Marie Steffensen. They have three sons, wonderful daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Ms. Jackie Sexton, Salt Lake Chamber vice president of Events and Programs, has worked for the Salt Lake Chamber for 22 years finding ways for business leaders to improve their networking, leadership, and professional development skills and connections. During her time at the Salt Lake Chamber, she served as the staff liaison for the Military Affairs Committee helping business leaders recognize and support our military community. As a founding member of the Utah Military and Veterans Coalition, she promoted and assisted with many military-related events including job fairs and small-business-owned workshops and conferences.   She worked with state and local agencies serving on various committees addressing issues such as emergency preparedness and mental health. Currently, Jackie works as the Special Projects Manager at DevonWay, an international software management firm, helping them optimize and improve processes internally and externally. Jackie and her husband, Rod, have two daughters, Taylor and Carli.  As a daughter of a Utah 19th Special Forces Guardsman, Jackie will always have a special place in her heart for the men and women of our Armed Forces.

Ms. Susan Sheehan, president and COO, Huntsman Cancer Foundation and she has worked at the foundation for 17 years. As president and COO, she oversees and directs all philanthropy programs for cancer fundraising, marketing communications, legislative efforts, and strategic initiatives as identified by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation Board of Directors.  Prior to her time at Huntsman Cancer, Ms. Sheehan served as CEO of the Greater Salt Lake Area of the American Red Cross (2000-2004).  During her tenure at the Red Cross, she led first-aid services and sheltering services for every Olympics venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics, led a successful statewide major gifts campaign, and also earned recognition for greatest fundraising success for International Red Cross/Red Crescent initiatives in Africa. As executive director of the YWCA of Salt Lake City (1996-2000), Ms. Sheehan operated the largest shelter for women and children fleeing violence in Utah. Before entering the non-profit sector, Ms. Sheehan served as Utah State Director of Welfare Reform efforts. She also directed programs at the county government level in workforce training and economic development.

Mr. Kevin M. Smith, CEO and executive producer of Tuacahn Center for the Arts, and has been with Tuacahn for more than 20 years. Tuacahn is one of the largest non-profit arts and educational organizations in Utah, operating on an annual budget of more than $15 million. Tuacahn presents professional Broadway musicals, concerts and other events in a 2000-seat, state-of-the-art outdoor Amphitheatre and 425-seat indoor Hafen Theatre. Smith has produced or co-produced more than 50 professional Broadway musical productions, and has presented more than 500 major professional concerts and events. Kevin has a BS in Sociology with a minor in Business Management from Brigham Young University and a Master of Education Degree from Southern Utah University. He serves on the Greater Zion Tourism Advisory Board and on the Zions Bank Regional Advisory Board. Kevin recently lost his beautiful wife, Rebecca, to cancer and they have four children, two daughters-in-law and a precious granddaughter.