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Bethel Assembly of God (111 Totten Lane, Front Royal, VA 22630) was honored to host Sergeant Major (Retired US Army) James McGruder on Sunday, June 26e, 2022, for a very memorable flag presentation service. The service was hosted by church member and Warren County resident Tim Wolfe and was to coincide with the church’s annual Independence Day celebrations.

SGM McGruder entered the United States Army in February 1983 and completed basic and advanced individual training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He received the MOS 13B Field Artillery. After basic training, he was posted to Fort Hood, Texas as part of the 1st 92nd Field Artillery, 8 Inch Battalion (BN).

Sergeant Major (Retired US Army) James McGruder

SGM McGruder deployed to Iraq with Alpha Battery 5-18 Field Artillery as part of Desert Shield/Storm in November 1990. While in Iraq he risked his life to put out a fire in a gate -M548 ammunition to save combat ammunition from the M110 howitzer. load; he took this step selflessly, without hesitation and without formal acknowledgment of his heroism.

SGM McGruder is passionate about mentoring and ensuring the future success of the NCO Corps. In 2003, as the Senior Professional Development NCO for the Field Artillery Branch in Human Resources Command (HRC), SGM McGruder managed over 24,000 troops and expertly advised the Chief of the Branch and the Sergeant Major on military education requirements, career progression and the structure of military occupational specialties. . While posted to HRC, SGM McGruder was selected from over 26 non-commissioned officers to fill the position of Human Resources Command Chairman Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.

SGM McGruder was also instrumental in the development of young officers. In July 2009, SGM McGruder was selected by the CSM of Cadet Command to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3, United States Army Cadet Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia. His selfless service and dedication to mission accomplishment had a lasting impact on training operations and opportunities throughout the command.

On August 7, 2014, SGM McGruder had the privilege of introducing former President Barrack Obama before he signed the Veterans Affairs Overhaul Bill into law. That bill enacted a $16.3 billion measure to help overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency that in recent months had come under heavy criticism for long wait times for health care and record handling. It was the first time in American history that an active duty sergeant major introduced a sitting president.

SGM McGruder’s last assignment was to Fort Belvoir Garrison Operations, where he served as an enlisted advisor to the Garrison Commander. After more than 32 years of military service, SGM McGruder retired on February 28, 2015. SGM McGruder is married to former Tammy Buerl and they have been married for 34 years. They have two children, daughter Jamecia and son James.

The Flag Presentation Service honored Pastor Steven A. Schemom II for his dedication to the community. Bethel Assembly of God is a growing, community-minded church working to positively impact the Front Royal-Warren County community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. As an example of its dedication to the community, the church is currently working to distribute gift bags to employees and volunteers of community organizations to show their appreciation and support for the hard work these people do in the community.

Weekly services are held at Bethel Assembly of God every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The church also hosts or sponsors several small groups each week. The mission of the church is “to be a vital community of loving disciples committed to building one another so that everyone may reach their full potential”. More information about the church can be found online at or by emailing

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