JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of Army South historian Dr. Isaac Hampton, the Army South Hall of Honor became a reality with a flagship ceremony Sept. 14 in the lobby of the headquarters building at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
The selection process for the first inductees involved a 10-person panel, made up of a cross section of the command, to include Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Olvera, and, if needed as a tie-breaker, Maj. Gen. K.K. Chinn, ARSOUTH commanding general. The committee then reviewed the biographical packets of nine different candidates.
In order to select these candidates, Hampton researched the past 70 years of Army South history, poring over the contributions of the hero-selects to determine the packets for final review by the committee.
The committee voted to induct Lt. Gen. Edward Brooks, Maj. Gen. George Mabry Jr., the Alamo Scouts (officially named the Sixth Army Special Reconnaissance Unit), Gen. Walter Krueger and Col. Ralph Puckett.
“Nothing is more important than honoring those that went before us in peace and in war. Events like this remind us of our rich history,” Chinn said.
During the ceremony, the inductees were hailed as creating the legacy that makes the U.S. the global superpower that it is today. The family members of two of the inductees were present and agreed with Chinn as they spoke in fond remembrance of their loved ones and shared with the crowd special moments about the honorees.
The great-grandson to Gen. Walter Krueger, Grayson Kirtland, spoke of how his great-grandfather would always write him a letter and send him a present every year for his birthday. Upon finding one such correspondence he lamented on how Krueger expressed his desire for him to, “do well in school and grow up into a strong courageous man.”
“To him, it was the officers and especially the enlisted man who deserved all of the credit for the 6th Army’s success,” Kirtland said. “His love of the enlisted man came naturally as he was a private when he joined the Army and climbed the ranks to four-star general.”
The daughter of Capt. Howell S. Kopp, Jeannie Kopp Heffern, spoke with the assistance of her husband about her father who was a member of the Alamo Scouts. The Alamo Scouts were elite six- to seven-man teams who performed 110 known missions behind enemy lines without having a single man killed or captured including the liberation of two prisoner camps.
Prior to his last mission, Kopp penned a letter to his family. Kopp, (along with 16 of his men) boarded the U.S.S. Sea Wolf, a submarine directed to run silent. Refusing to break radio silence, they were mistaken as a Japanese submarine and assumed destroyed by friendly fire in a tragic accident, recognized by the U.S. government.
Retired Col. Ralph Puckett concluded the ceremony, accepting his induction into the Hall of Honor by making it very clear that his successes laid entirely on the shoulders of the Soldiers who served with him.
“The real credit should go to the NCOs and officers that led the way,” Puckett said. “I want to give credit to the 8th Army Ranger Company, service troops and the Escuela de Lanceros. I was proud to be a member of the Lancero team, where the word impossible does not exist.”
“Soldiering is an affair of the heart, it’s that spirit and fundamental commitment to volunteer that makes our inductees the best in the world then and continue to be the best in the world today,” Chinn said.