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Army general learned value of service from father at Pope Air Force Base

Pope Air Force Base (SSGT Charles Reger/WikiCommons)

When Maj. Gen. Clement S. Coward was growing up at what was then Pope Air Force Base, he developed a desire to serve in the military, but becoming a two-star general in the Army wasn’t on his mind.

“It’s beyond my wildest dreams,” he said.

Coward, who was born in Panama but calls Fayetteville his hometown, was promoted to major general at Fort Bragg on Feb. 2. The ceremony took place in Marshall Hall, the U.S. Army Forces Command headquarters. The building is near Pope, which is now an Army airfield.

Coward’s father, Clement S. Coward Sr., is a retired Air Force master sergeant who was assigned to Pope in 1974.

The younger Coward was 8 years old and in third grade. He graduated from Pine Forest High School in 1984.

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Coward’s father worked in avionics maintenance on C-141 and C-130 cargo planes and retired in 1982. The general said he has fond memories of playing sports at Pope and attending church at the chapel there.

“That’s all I ever knew was the military,” Coward said.

Coward decided to go into the military, thinking he’d serve 20 years and retire. He’s now been in the Army for 30 years.

Gen. Michael Garrett, commander of Forces Command, said at Coward’s promotion ceremony that Coward is one of three senior air defense officers in the Army, according to an article posted on the Army’s website.

“That is a huge accomplishment,” Garrett said. “Not only has he done everything that we ask our leaders to do in the U.S. Army, he’s done it to a very high standard.”

Coward said the best advice he can give young soldiers or others who want to succeed is to remain humble.

“Don’t forget where you came from, and treat people how you want to be treated,” he said. “Be professional.”

Coward said the highlights of his career have been the opportunity to command.

“Where I’m at today is really a culminating point for me,” he said. “This is the very first … command that I served in as a second lieutenant 30 years ago.”

Coward said he has been married to his best friend for as long as he’s been in the Army.

“My wife, Jody, has been the one who has really given me that balance and support to achieve any success that I may have achieved,” he said.

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© 2020 The Fayetteville Observer