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Air Force General Assumes Command of National Guard Bureau

General Joseph L. Lengyel (Air Force Photo)
General Joseph L. Lengyel (Air Force Photo)

A U.S. Air Force general has assumed command of the National Guard Bureau.

Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel on Wednesday received his fourth star and became the 28th Chief of the bureau, which oversees the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, during a ceremony at the Pentagon, according to a press release.

He succeeded Army Gen. Frank Grass, who will soon retire after nearly five decades in uniform, the release states.

"It's the greatest honor of my military career," said Lengyel, who served for a decade in the active component as a pilot of the F-16 fighter jet and tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Army.

He also praised employers who support Guard members when they're called away from their jobs to serve on active duty, the release states.

"Our business model doesn’t work without them," he said in the release.

Lengyel's father Laurie helped pin on his son's fourth star, according to the statement.

The senior Lengyel was shot down on his 40th combat mission while flying an F-4 reconnaissance plane over Vietnam on Aug. 9, 1967.

He spent six years as a prisoner of war -- including time with John McCain, who would later become a U.S. senator -- before he was released March 14, 1973, according to the Army. Notably, he was one of only two former POWs during Vietnam to return to resume combat missions, the service said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct and add information beginning in the eighth paragraph.

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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