Mr. John L. Byrd, Jr. was born in Simms, Texas on June 1935 and graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering in 1962.
For thirty years he was a major figure at Savanna Ordnance Depot in Illinois, first as chief of the Management Engineering Office from 1965 to 1967, then as chief of the Army Materiel Command Ammunition Center until 1995. He was a tremendous visionary, developer, and innovator of ammunition programs, many of which have become mainstays within the DoD ammunition community.
He created the first civilian career program for ammunition operations personnel based on commodity knowledge. He established and directed the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. He headed the Joint Ordnance Commanders Group Wholesale Ammunition Stockpile Program Review and Assessment Team. He was instrumental in establishing a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and the Republic of Korea for a $12-million R&D program to develop underground storage criteria for ammunition. He was recognized as a national leader in developing environmentally-acceptable disposal methods for large rocket motors and conventional munitions for all military services. He provided technical approaches for the disposition of the former Soviet Union's Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. He was also instrumental in the development of the Secondary Steel Container that safely moved chemical rounds from Europe.
During his career, he was responsible for the technical and managerial ammunition training of over 56,000 U.S. military, civilian, and contractor students and 422 foreign military students from 34 countries. Mr. Byrd continued to serve the local community until his death in January 1995.