Meet Major James Tyre Benefield, US Army (R)

Tyre is our newest volunteer at the Alabama Veterans Museum. He was born in LaGrange, Georgia on February 5, 1952 and grew up in Roanoke, Alabama. Tyre attended the University of Alabama through the ROTC program. After college, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the US Army. Tyre says he joined the military to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue his family’s service in the United States military.

During his twenty years in the military, Tyre held many different positions. In 1974, he started out in Fort Knox, Kentucky at the Armor/Cavalry Officer Basic Course. From there he went to Ft Campbell, where he served as Motor Officer, Platoon Leader and Troop XO for the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry with the 101st Airborne Division.

In 1979, Tyre went to Fulda, Germany, as the S3 Air, Cavalry Troop Commander, which he describes as his “most memorable assignment” because “there were only two Armored Cavalry Regiments stationed in Europe and both were stationed along the Iron Curtain. The Armored Cavalry Regiments had real world full-time border security missions as the first line of defense for Europe and NATO facing off against the massive armies of the Soviet Union and WARSAW PAC. The other units of the US Army Europe were stationed behind the two Armored Cavalry Regiments and would been the second units of NATO to engage the Soviet Union and WARSAW PAC armies. As we have said: “We say we went toe to toe, we stayed trained, we stayed ready and strong, but we didn’t blink or flinch and they did and they fell apart. WE WON!”

Tyre returned to the US in 1982 and came back to Alabama as the Alabama National Guard Advisor, 31st Armor Brigade at Redstone Arsenal. After assignments back to Germany and to Ft. Riley, Kansas, he and his family finally returned to Redstone for good in 1994. His final assignment was as Brigade Executive Officer, 5th Brigade, 2nd Region, ROTC Cadet Command.

After retiring at the rank of Major (04), in 1994, Tyre went to work for the University of Alabama where he served as the Assistant Director of Professional Development and Customer Service for the Integrated Science Program. He also served as Director of Special Services and Events which was responsible for events related to fundraising and the president’s office. If that wasn’t enough, he was also the Advisor and Sponsor for Capstone Men and Women, the University’s student ambassador group. He also worked as a Systems Analyst for the Camber Corporation and for SAIC.
Tyre has been volunteering at the museum for about five months now. He enjoys being with other veterans and likes the opportunity to learn more about history at the museum. He would like to see more news media outreach and fundraising to go toward the future expansion of the museum. He would also like to see the museum obtain a M60A3 Tank and a M113 Armored Personal Carrier; he would gladly help with maintenance of these vehicles and with fundraising efforts. While Tyre thinks the community does a lot for our veterans, he thinks a lot more could be done.

Tyre holds an AS in General Science from the Marion Military Institute; a BS in Psychology, with a Minor in Chemistry from the University of Alabama; and a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University. He has been married to the lovely Susan Haglund Benefield from West Port, Connecticut for 32 years and they reside in Madison.
By: Sandra Thompson, Director, Alabama Veterans’ Museum