Col. Leland Tony Shepherd to Become First Black Officer to Command Arkansas Army National Guard

col leland tony shepherd

Col. Leland Tony Shepherd | Image courtesy of Arkansas National Guard

By Niketa Reed

Col. Leland Tony Shepherd will be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and assume command of the Arkansas Army National Guard in back-to-back ceremonies happening Sunday, June 12 at 10 a.m. at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Shepherd will assume overall command of the 6,500 Army Guardsmen from Brig. Gen. Bradley J. Cox, who will become the Arkansas National Guard director of the joint staff.

The Arkansas Army National Guard consists of four brigades: 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 77th Theater Aviation Brigade, 87th Troop Command, and the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade.

Shepherd will be the first Black general officer to command the Arkansas Army National Guard, and just the second Black general officer in the Arkansas Army National Guard. The first Black general officer was Brig. Gen. William J. Johnson who pinned on the rank on Oct. 16, 2007. Johnson retired in 2012.

Shepherd was born in Guyana, South America. He has a doctoral degree in Executive Leadership from the University of Charleston, West. Va. He has a master’s degree in Information Technology Management from Webster University, Mo., and a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management from Philander Smith College in Little Rock.

He’s served two combat tours in Iraq. One in 2004 and one in 2008 as a signal officer on each deployment. He’s been awarded the following medals: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Iraqi Freedom Service Medal.

Additionally, he’s been awarded the Combat Action Badge, and the prestigious Order of Mercury, Bronze; for the highest standards of integrity, moral character, professional competence and selflessness, for those who have contributed significantly to the Army Signal Corps.