Major General Jeff Burton
He’s a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives who has been in charge of making armed boat patrols along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and during the height of the Iraq conflict having 7,000-plus men and women from his state under arms in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 85% of his Utah National Guard troops in the Mid-East, a Major General who came home after 37 years to retire; only to be called up by Utah Governor Gary Herbert to lead the state’s as Major General to lead the Covid-19 Task Force for the Utah Department of Health.
Clark H. Caras, Candidates.vote – Retirement must of looked good and then you get recruited to run for a legislative office where you have a tough race, but one you ultimately win at county convention leaving you pretty much the winner because the democrats didn’t field a candidate.
The Covid-19 and the pandemic hits and a man who knows you did your job for the state as its commander in the Mid-East reaches down and pulls you into place as leader of his Covid-19 task force right during the heat of the moment.
General Burton – I have been enlisting in one thing or another my entire life; I guess because I’m excited to be of service and too served. In my serve I’ve often found decisions being made in a fear mode. Emotional or fearful, hot headed decisions. I was determined we were not going to let that happen in Utah with Covid-19.
Candidates.vote – You were saying goodbye to a lot of your men and women and at times some of Utah’s smaller cities and towns were seeing the majority of their male population heading overseas. And then it came time for your active duty in the Mid-East.
General Burton – Yes, before my active duty came up I was traveling back and forth and staying with my troops for three weeks at a pop. Utah had some troops trained in things critical to the war effort and so there were those times we had the 85-percent of our Guard men and women there. We had intelligence forces and special ops and those men and women were really needed.
And then I was called up for a year and one-half. It’s been a long war and just like they are out of Afghanistan we need to be getting out of Iraq, which for the most part we are. Utah truly did our fair share over there… we’ve been wasting our blood and our treasure. It just can go on forever. It’s overwhelming when you stop and think about the roads, bridges, and things we could have here with the money we have spent over there.
Candidates.vote – You mentioned your military service had taken you to six countries. In all those visits what’s the strangest food you’ve eaten?
General Burton – Well, there was a time in Korea and I thought I was eating this amazing chicken soup. Had this wonderful flavor and seemed to just be chicken, broth and these great egg noodles. Thanks when all of the sudden I found a chicken claw! That was just too strange for me and I couldn’t eat any more of it, luckily it was bought on the street so I really wasn’t offending anyone when I ditched it. Just kinda nasty.
For a time I was over a squadron of boats on the Tigris and Euphrates. Those rivers were constantly having bodies thrown into it and you’d see some nasty things between the birds and the fish. That’s when I started to get dinner invitations from these sheiks and they would bring out the very first entrée and it was this great big fish we saw all the time in the river and we knew exactly what they’d been feeding upon… but we ate it.
One time I was handed a bag of glaberred milk or something. I thought maybe a milk shake or something. No indeed! It was filled with curdled goat’s milk and I downed out of the courtesy of them sharing it.
Candidates.vote – I’m almost afraid to ask but I’ve got to… what’s your comfort food now you’re here and home?
General Burton – Nice and simple. The lasagna at Brick Oven in Provo. In fact we were there just the other evening because I was craving my comfort food.
Candidates.vote – Okay, so are you a hamburger or a cheeseburger guy?
General Burton – Cheeseburger all the way!!! And if my waistline would allow it I’d eat one three times a day. Oh, and the sharper the cheese the better.
Candidates.vote – What about pickles?
General Burton – I grew up in Payson, Utah and I used to help my grandmother make salt brine pickles in the crocks. Oh they were great!!! You have to have pickles on them.
Candidates.vote – How does it feel to have settled in south Utah County where you grew up and you’ll be representing the citizenry?
General Burton – Well, I settled in Salem and from my back porch you can see the home I grew up in up along the Goose Nest area. My father was the Payson City recorder and my uncle was the mayor for a lot of those years. We’ve lived all over the world, but this is most definitely where we wanted to come home to.
Candidates.vote – As the head of the Covid-19 task force with the state what is the advice you can give to people?
General Burton – If you are wise and careful you’ll be okay. It is of course worse than the flu; and yes, it can take you down. But there are ways of combating it and we are finding new ones each day. You can’t have fear though, that’s when you make bad decisions.
We know now not to stick you on a ventilator – don’t let them do that to you. We have drugs and ways of oxygen treatment that will bring you and your lungs through it. They are putting people on their stomachs now and finding that is the best way to have them breath.
Candidates.vote – So what might we find General Burton reading?
General Burton – I’m usually reading three books at a time. I like to read fiction. I like to say I’m an avid reader. Right now I’m reading for the third time the “Meditations”, by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. (Written from 161 to 180 AD). He taught that we should have respect for the content of our character. And to embrace what comes our way; good or bad.