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Lt. Col. Burroughs

Wofford in the military: Lt. Col. Todd Burroughs ’94

Leading by example

On Thursday, Aug. 3, Lt. Col. Todd Burroughs ’94 took command of the 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The change of command from Lt. Col. Ryan Morgan to Burroughs was precise, moving and steeped in tradition, but that’s to be expected from the oldest active infantry regiment in the U.S. Army.

The 4th Battalion of “The Old Guard” or Warrior Battalion, serving since

1784, guards the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery and conducts military and state funerals as well as ceremonies and special events for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense. It also provides security and defense support to civil authorities in the national capital region. The battalion includes the Fife and Drum Corps that still wears replica Revolutionary War uniforms, the 289th Military Police Company, the 947th Military Working Dog Detachment, the 529th Regimental Support Company, the U.S. Army Drill Team, the Honor Guard Company and the Commander-in- Chief’s Guard.

“Tradition is very important to The Old Guard,” says Burroughs, who will spend the next few months honing his expertise when it comes to military tradition. “I’ve got a lot to work on, including becoming ceremonially certified to march. We’re the face of the Army. We represent every other unit and every other soldier, so we have to be on point.”

Burroughs believes there is goodness in ceremony, attention to detail, discipline and tradition.

“Your history imparts and helps build your character. That’s really important to soldiers,” says Burroughs. “All the precise drilling has a purpose. It teaches you to do your job, do it with precision and do it when you’re supposed to. It builds better soldiers.”

Tradition is also important to the Burroughs family. Besides the usual holiday traditions and quirky family inside jokes that certainly count as tradition, the Burroughs family eats dinner together every night when at all possible.

“It’s not important what time; we always try to sit down together as a family,” he says.

The family also enjoys running together and cheering on the Wofford Terriers and the Carolina Panthers. Anastasia Burroughs continues those traditions this fall as a member of the Wofford Class of 2021 and a student-athlete on the college’s cross country and track teams.

Burroughs’ path from Wofford student-athlete (he was a defensive end for the Terriers) to command of The Old Guard has been circuitous to say the least. The son and grandson of Army veterans, Burroughs did not participate in ROTC at Wofford. He enlisted after graduation then went to officer candidate school and did ranger training. After receiving his commission, he was stationed in Korea as a rifle platoon leader for three years before returning to civilian life and working in accounting as a CPA. He joined the Reserves and taught in a college ROTC program. The Reserve unit he commanded out of York, S.C., was deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months with the 391st Engineering Battalion. After Afghanistan, Burroughs went back on active duty and was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was with the 82nd Airborne Division. On New Year’s Eve 2006 he left for Iraq for 15 months as part of the Surge Forces in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his return to Fort Bragg, he held increasingly demanding assignments and was selected for the Army’s Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program, a national program designed to allow 12 field-grade officers the opportunity to pursue doctoral work in an area of policy. Burroughs was almost finished with his course work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when he received the assignment at Fort Myer in Arlington, Va.

“I feel like I’ve won the Army lottery,” says Burroughs. “The Army has given me another exceptional opportunity.”

Although Burroughs minimizes his own role in his success, the opportunity to command The Old Guard is a rare honor.

“I’ve had a lot of really good jobs and worked for tremendous people. Any success I’ve had, I attribute most of it to them. They tried to teach me how to be better,” says Burroughs, who counts Wofford role models among his list of mentors.

“I had great football coaches, but I will single out Coach Mike Ayers. I can’t think of a better role model for youngsters,” he says. “Coach Ayers was tough on us. He instilled discipline, and he exemplified discipline, which is the more important of the two. His audio matched his video. …

Then there’s Dr. Charlie Bass. I had him for organic chemistry. On the Sundays before a Monday test, he was at the college and available to students, not because it was mandatory, but because he cared. That transmits a message. He took the time, and people learned organic chemistry because of it. I was an accounting major, but organic chemistry was a favorite class at Wofford because of him.”

Now Burroughs is in a position to lead by order and by example. It’s something he takes seriously but with a sense of wonder as well.

“The soldiers of our battalion are passionate about what they do, and they carry a tremendous message to the American public,” says Burroughs. “It’s humbling. ... I hope I never lose the feeling I get when I watch them do what they do best.”

By Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89