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NEWS | Oct. 5, 2023

Elia laid to rest at Fort Sam Houston cemetery

By Lori A. Bultman 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Charles Elia, the 15th Chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, was laid to rest on Sept. 27, 2023, at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

Elia had close ties to Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), as he celebrated his 100th birthday here on July 27, 2021, at the historic Quadrangle.

As part of that celebration, and in honor of Elia’s dedication to Army veterinary medicine, a Percheron draft horse from the JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Caisson Platoon was officially renamed Elia. The general, in turn, donated to the U.S. Army Medical Museum, the brown leather veterinary kit his mother gave him when he joined the Veterinary Corps. 

A native Texan, Elia was born in Marshall and attended the North Texas Agriculture College, now the University of Texas at Arlington. He was commissioned into the U.S. Army in 1942 as a second lieutenant in the Medical Administration Corps.  

In 1943, the proud Aggie graduated from Texas A&M as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, moving on to attend the University of California, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University, and graduating with a master’s in public health.

Throughout his military service, he held numerous prestigious positions, including consultant to the Greek Army; deputy director of Public Health and Welfare, and veterinary consultant to U.S. Civil Affairs, Ryukyu Islands, Japan; commandant to the U.S. Army Medical Department Veterinary School; chief Army Veterinarian to the 4th, 5th, and 6th Armies; and finally, chief of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. He retired from military service in 1976.   

Elia’s service awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, American Defense Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster. 

In 1978, Elia became a founding member of the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum Foundation and helped raise funds to build a new museum facility. The AMEDD museum opened in 1989 on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and hosts an average of 52,000 visitors each year.