Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard Public Affairs
AUSTIN, Texas – “I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by heroes all my life, starting with my family, my education at Texas A&M University and my military career. And the Texas State Guard is full of patriots and heroes,” Bvt. Lt. Gen. Gerald R. “Jake” Betty told the gathering of family, friends and fellow State Guardsmen at his retirement ceremony at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, October 29, 2017. Betty’s retirement was the culmination of forty-one years of military service to Texas and the United States and three years as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard. Betty was brevetted to lieutenant general on October 31, 2017.
Betty began his military career upon graduating from Texas A&M University and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army in 1973, branching infantry. He was assigned to the 1st /501st Infantry Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He served as an infantry platoon leader, infantry company executive officer, recon platoon leader and battalion operations officer.
After leaving active duty in 1977, he served as the company commander of C Company, 1st /143 Infantry, 36th Airborne Brigade, Texas Army National Guard. In 1979 he transferred to the U. S. Army Reserves and served a nine-month deployment for Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia from 1997 to 1998. He served as the commander of the 3419th Military Intelligence Detachment, Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas, until he was deployed with the Defense Intelligence Agency as chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Fusion Center-CONUS as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2003. That same year he retired with the rank of colonel from the U. S. Army Reserve after 30 years of military service.
In 2006 Betty joined the Texas State Guard. He served as commander of the 8th Regiment, as a joint staff personnel and administration officer and as the commanding general of the Army Component Command. He deployed for state active duty missions for hurricanes Dean, Gustav, Dolly, Edouard and Ike.
On September 1, 2014, he was promoted to major general and named as the commanding general of the Texas State Guard. During his tenure, Betty focused on strengthening the military doctrine, policies and procedures, training doctrine implementation and the readiness management system within the Texas State Guard. He also increased joint training between components and cooperation between the Texas State Guard and the Texas Military Department through joint training events and joint mission deployments.
“Lt. Gen. Betty embodies all the great leadership qualities expected from a senior leader,” said Maj. Gen. Robert J. Bodisch, Interim Commander, Texas State Guard. “His integrity and his military professionalism are unmatched. His sense of duty, responsibility and accountability, as well as his genuine care for his troops, will serve as a cornerstone of his legacy of military service.”
Betty led the Texas State Guard during Operation Lone Star, Operation Border Star, Operation Strong Safety and Operation Secure Texas. He also led the Texas State Guard during Hurricane Harvey.
“General Betty, because of your leadership, Texas had the Texas State Guard when Texas needed the State Guard. When we called, you answered. When citizens called, you came. When they asked for help, you did,” stated Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, Adjutant General for the State of Texas.
Betty was instrumental in the renovation of the headquarters building of the Texas State Guard at Camp Mabry and in maintaining the continuity and functionality of the Texas State Guard to provide services and support to members during the renovation.
“Lt. Gen. Betty’s guiding principle was ‘Do your duty, take care of your people and go home with your honor.’ He never passed up an opportunity to reinforce it in the minds of our guardsmen and commanders,” said Col. Thomas Hamilton, Chief of Staff, Texas State Guard.
Betty’s military education includes U. S. Army Airborne School, U. S. Army Ranger School, Infantry Officer Basic Course, U. S. Army Air Assault School, Jungle Operations Training Course, Civil Affairs Officer Advanced Course, Command and General Staff College (non-resident), Nuclear Biological Chemical Operations Course, Reserve Components Support Command Course, Combat Service Support Multifunctional Course and Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course.
During the retirement ceremony, Betty received the Texas Superior Service Medal for his honorable state and federal service and superior performance in key leadership positions. His other military awards and honors include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with four Oak Leaf Clusters), National Defense Service Medal (with two Bronze Service Stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (with Silver Hourglass, “M” Device and Numeral 2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (with Numeral 7), Lone Star Distinguished Service Medal, Texas Outstanding Service Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), Texas Humanitarian Service Ribbon, Commanding General’s Individual Award, Texas State Guard Service Medal, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab and Air Assault Badge.
Betty has been married to Julianne for 43 years, and they have two children. Son Josh is a major in the U. S. Army and assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, where he lives with his wife Jen. Daughter Alison is married to Sgt. 1st Class James Perdue and lives in Mansfield, Texas.
Betty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Master of Science in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University.