Gen. Stephen R. Lyons Retires After 38-Year Career
Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, the 13th commander of U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), retired on October 15th following a change of command ceremony with Air Force Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost.
Lyons retired following a 38-year career and was the first Army general to lead USTRANSCOM, taking charge of the global combatant command on Aug. 24, 2018.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III presided over the ceremony and praised Lyons’ leadership and service throughout his career.
“Over his career, General Lyons has made a habit of being the right person at the right place at the right time, and he has done it all with focus and professionalism,” Austin said. “Service to our nation is more than a job, it’s a calling. For nearly 40 years, you’ve given so much to our country. I want to thank you for answering our nation’s call and giving it everything you got.
In his remarks, Lyons thanked the people he worked with along the way.
“Throughout my military journey, I was never, never alone. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to those who helped me along the way,” Lyons said. “Over the years, it was the troops who have held me to a higher standard that I would never have held myself to. Some of the most inspiring people I’ve met in my life were privates. This profession is first and foremost about the people.”
Lyons also talked about how the military develops its own.
“The fascinating thing about our services is how they are renowned for challenging and developing people to achieve the unimaginable,” he said. “The military is known for building men and women of character that are resilient, innovative, and can adapt to complex problems.”
During Lyons’ tenure at USTRANSCOM, he championed sealift recapitalization, cyber resiliency, digital modernization, and Defense Personal Property relocation services reform.
Operationally, Lyons led the command during unique transportation challenges, including implementation of coronavirus mitigation while ensuring TRANSCOM safely met its mission, the withdrawal of forces from Somalia, and evacuating more than 124 thousand people out of Afghanistan during the largest airlift evacuation in our nation’s history.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley attended the ceremony and presented Lyons with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for his exceptional leadership.
“If you were to make a list of everything you wanted in a TRANSCOM commander, feed that list into a machine somewhere and have it generate the ideal commander, it would come out with something like Steve Lyons,” Milley said. “What makes me proudest of Steve is his character. He has unquestioned integrity. He is never afraid to speak truth to power in an extraordinarily humble and professional way. He reflects the most fundamental values about what it means to be an American.”
Lyons began his career in Germany, receiving his commission from the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1983. He held a wide range of assignments to include command at every level, multiple operational deployments, and more than 10 years of experience in joint assignments. As a battalion commander in 2003, he participated in 3rd Infantry Division’s major combat operations to invade Iraq. Since 2003, he has spent more than 40 months deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan).
In April 2018, Lyons was nominated for promotion to the rank of general and assignment as commander of USTRANSCOM.
A native of Rensselaer, New York, Lyons holds two master’s degrees, one from the Naval Postgraduate School in logistics management in 1993, and a second from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in national resource strategy in 2005.
Lyons’ many joint awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star. He also holds the Master Parachutist Badge.