Geico Corp. Chairman John J Byrne was elected board chairman of Government Employees Life Insurance Co., an affiliated company. Byrne succeeds the late George E Fries, who died last month.

In addition, retired Army Lt. Col Julian J. Ewell, a military consultant, was elected to the life insurance firm's board of directors. Ewell, 64, served as chief of staff for the NATO allied forces in southern Europe and was commanding general of the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam prior to his retirement from the service in 1973.

Retired Air Force Gen. William McBride and retired Air Force Col. Herbert Young recently were elected to the board of directors at United Services Life Insurance Co., of Washington, a firm with more thann $7 billion in life insurance in force and assets of more than $550 million that sells exclusively to military officers and families.

McBride retired from the Air Force in 1978 after serving for 36 years including as vice chief of staff from 1975 until retirement. Young has been a field representative for the company since mid-1973.

William I. Thomas of crawley and Thomas Insurance Inc. has been named to the advisory board of Northwestern National Insurance Co. The board is composed of Northwestern representatives who meet regularly to advise the firm on insurance needs in local markets. Thomas, an agent since 1973, is a member of the board of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Maryland and a past president of the Montgomery-Prince George's Counties Independent Agents Association.

Austin D. Fisher has been appointed by New York Life Insurance Co. as director of field administration for the company's Central Atlantic region. Fisher will have responsibility for administrative operations in 20 New York Life general offices in Washington, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.