Fort Hood Sentinel
Standing watch over Fort Hood since 1942
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015  05:34:30 AM

Hood to honor civilians, Monument to recognize Good Neighbors

Email   Print   Share By Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, III Corps and Fort Hood Commander
June 25, 2009 | Editorial
The military has many ways of rewarding service and contributions not only of our members, but also the civilians who are so instrumental to our success. One of those ways is a permanent memorial. Last year, we renamed the Main Gate here at the Great Place in honor of the late Mr. Bernie Beck and the former Fort Hood Street in honor of the late Mr. T. J. Mills. On June 29th it is my privilege to host the formal dedication of those memorials at 2 p.m., at the Marvin Leath Visitor Control Center.

This ceremony will close all access to the Bernie Beck Main Gate and T.J. Mills Boulevard from all directions from 2 p.m. until ceremony completion on June 29, and the Visitor Control Center will be closed from 12:30 p.m. Friday, until 6 p.m. Monday. I know this will affect many of your daily travels, but I think it’s a worthwhile reason.

Bernice M. “Bernie” Beck, who passed away in 2008, was a life-long resident of the Killeen area, graduating from Killeen High School in 1940. In 1942, Bernie married his grade school sweetheart, Eula “Sis” Beck, and joined Patton’s Third Army. He served in Europe as a platoon and staff sergeant in communications with the 102nd and 65th Infantry Divisions, continuing service after V-E Day in Germany.

Upon his return home, Bernie began work at the First National Bank eventually serving as director before helping to establish the Fort Hood National Bank. He remained in the banking business his whole career, ending as President, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Union State Bank in Florence. Outside of his business success, he was a wonderful advocate of Fort Hood. Bernie served as the chairman of Killeen’s Chamber of Military Affairs for 14 years, was a founding member and chairman of the Central Texas AUSA, and was a civilian advisor to the III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General from the late 1950s until his death.

Though Bernie Beck had many passions, including working on Model A Fords, his number one was Fort Hood and there was nothing he would not do for the Great Place and its Soldiers.

Tommy Joe Mills, who passed away in 2008, was also a lifelong resident of the Fort Hood area, growing up on a farm eight miles south of Killeen in what was then known as Trimmer Community. He graduated from the Avenue D School and enrolled in trade school to learn refrigeration mechanics before marrying his high school sweetheart Lawanna in 1949. He opened Modern TV and Appliance in 1957 on Avenue C where it still stands today.

An active member of the Killeen community. he was a member of the First Baptist Church, the Masons, the Kiwanis Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Killeen School Board and he became active in the AUSA in the early 1960s. Throughout his whole life, Tommy Joe was an ardent supporter of Fort Hood. He served as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for North Texas beginning in 1986 before his appointments as the Civilian Aide at Large and Civilian Aide Emeritus, the position in which he was serving at the time of his death. Perhaps the project closest to his heart was the development of the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport which is instrumental in serving both the civilian and military community of Central Texas.

I’ve said repeatedly that the Central Texas community is the most supportive community that I have ever seen – and I’ve seen quite a few – and Mr. T.J. Mills and Mr. Bernie Beck are two of the most outstanding examples of that great support.

It is a privilege and an honor for me to be able to hold this dedication ceremony on June 29 as we honor two men who were Great Neighbors to the Great Place.

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