Fort Hood News Archive

The outgoing 1st Cavalry Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Paul T. Calvert, will host a media round table Wednesday, September 25th at 3 p.m. at the division’s headquarters on Fort Hood.

Calvert will talk about the division’s accomplishments during his tenure, as well as the challenges he faced while in command, and what’s next for the Calvert Family.

Media interested in attending the event should RSVP to Sgt. 1st Class Michael Garrett at michael.b.garrett16.mil@mail.mil by Tuesday, September 24th, at 5 p.m. Attending media should meet at the media parking area at the Fort Hood Welcome Center on T.J. Mills Blvd. no later than 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 25th.

By U.S. Army Operational Testing Command Public Affairs

WEST FORT HOOD, Texas — A small group of military and civilian employees met in a III Corps Headquarters storage room on Oct. 1, 1969, launching a unique equipment test organization that has now spanned 50 years.

Those humble beginnings of the Army’s only independent operational tester — the U.S. Army Operational Test Command — today uses Soldiers to determine whether new and modernized combat equipment systems are effective, suitable, and survivable.

OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer — the American Soldier.

Testing of military equipment goes back even further.

Between 1856 and 1857, Maj. Henry C. Wayne became the first test officer to conduct the first Army operational test and experiment — the Army Camel Corps.

Wayne reported directly to Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, all of his plans, tests and experiments, using average American Cavalrymen in the same harsh environments the camels were expected to operate.

He built into his plans a number of tests that measured real-world endurance and capabilities between the horse, mule, waggoning, and the camel.

Though the first operational tester’s camel program was thorough and rigorous, it soon emerged that the camel could not be effective as the horse, so Wayne ended the camel tests.

On Feb. 7, 1910, the first experimental use of an aircraft bought from the Wright brothers was documented.

Lt. Benjamin D. Foulois, eight enlisted men, one civilian mechanic took their one airplane onto a field on the north side of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, making his first solo flight, which also became the first military flight in Texas.

Foulois and his team of testers are credited with taking the first aerial photography experiments — a map from the air of the area between Fort Sam and Texas City, Texas.

Still today, OTC uses Soldiers to test current and possible future Army equipment and systems under realistic conditions in which they are expected to fight in is a great advantage in the way operational testing is performed.

Soldiers have always been in the operational testing loop with OTC placing equipment in the hands of the troops who give their feedback to the Army on what works and what does not.

This basic philosophy behind operational testing has been the formula over OTC’s 50-year history.

Our great nation’s Soldiers deserve only the very best equipment that is survivable and sustainable on the modern battlefield, and operational testing makes sure the Army puts the best equipment in the hands of its Soldiers that is effective, suitable and reliable.

OTC has had many name changes over the years.

From 1969 to 1976, it was called Project MASSTER in its original form. The U.S. Army Project Mobiles Army Sensor Systems Test, Evaluation and Review was to be only temporary and last as long as the conflict in Vietnam.

From 1976 to 1989, OTC changed its name to TCATA — the TRADOC Combined Arms Test Activity. Maj. Gen. Stewart C. Meyer, TCATA’s commander, told his military and civilian employees that “TCATA had a destiny to be fulfilled.”

“TCATA is destined to become far more than one of the Army’s field test agencies, and their work will help shape the Army’s training, weaponry production, and the tactics and instrumentation used on the modern battlefield,” he said.

Its third name change came during 1989 to 1999 to TEXCOM, or TRADOC Test and Experimentation Command.

Effective Oct. 1, 1999, a major Army reorganization took place when technical and developmental testing combined with operational testing and evaluation under one command. The U.S. Army Operational Test and Evaluation Command in Alexandria, Virginia, and the Army Material Command’s Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland both merged to form the new U.S. Army test and Evaluation Command, today’s OTC higher headquarters.

It was this same day TEXCOM changed its name to U.S. Army Operational Test Command, with eight test directorates located at West Ford Hood, Texas, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

On its 25th Anniversary in October 1994, the Operational Testers’ Hall of Fame was officially opened. The two previously-mentioned pioneer testers — Maj. Henry C. Wayne and Lt. Benjamin D. Foulois, plus six charter members — Lt. Gen. John Norton, Reedie A. Stone, Jr., William “Don” Melton, Col. Edward B. “Jack” Derr, Col. Robert A. Bonifacio, and Mr. Dionisios Sabalos — were inducted. Each was committed to putting the best possible battlefield equipment into the hands of Soldiers.

It is fitting to take the opportunity Oct. 1, 2019 to not only celebrate 50 Years of Operational Testing, but to remember all Operational Testers who have served before and continue to test equipment for our great Soldiers for the next 50 years.

William Ralph (Bill) Fesler of Lampasas, Texas, will enter the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Operational Testers’ Hall of Fame as the program’s 41st inductee in ceremonies scheduled for Oct. 1.

By U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs

WEST FORT HOOD, Texas — A Central Texas resident has been selected as the 2019 inductee to the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Operational Testers’ Hall of Fame.

William Ralph (Bill) Fesler of Lampasas, Texas, has been named the 41st HOF inductee and will be honored in ceremonies to take place Oct. 1, which coincides with OTC’s 50th birthday commemorating its role in testing all new and modernized Army and joint-service equipment systems.

Bill will celebrate his 76th birthday Sept. 23, and is a native of Amarillo, Texas.

After graduating Dumas High School in Dumas, Texas in 1962, he enlisted into the Army in September the same year, spanning an Army career of 29 years until he retired as a lieutenant colonel October 1, 1991.

His second retirement came as Acting Director of OTC’s Logistics Directorate in June 2013 with 21 years as an Army Civilian employee.

His Army career saw him as a Logistics, Airborne, and as a Parachute Rigger in charge of a Parachute Shop in Binh Thi (Cholon), Vietnam, he was responsible for maintaining, repairing and supplying parachutes for all light Army aircraft in Vietnam.

After Vietnam, he became a parachute rigging instructor at Fort Lee, Virginia in 1967.

He took a turn into the Army officer ranks when he attended Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, graduating during October 1969.

The “Old Soldier” next set his sights on becoming an Army Aviator, attending his first Officer Rotary Wing Flight School at Fort Walters, Texas and advanced and flight instrument training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, graduating in September 1971 and flying OH-58 Scout helicopters.

He went back to Vietnam in January 1972, serving in two different aviation units.

He achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1985 and was assigned to Bremerhaven, Germany where he served as the Director of Logistics (DOL) for the 543rd Area Support Group there.

His civilian service at OTC started only seven days after retiring from the Army, when he became the Logistics Officer for the Command, Control, and Communications Test Directorate (C3TD).

During his 21 years at OTC, Bill served in several directorates to include C3TD, the Aviation Test Directorate (AVTD), Operations, and Logistics. He was Test Officer on a number of systems to include Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS), Vehicle Intercommunications System (VIS), Command and Control Vehicle (C2V), Aviation Mission Planning System (AMPS), CH47-D Chinook Helicopter, and several other systems including airborne jamming for Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) and EPLRS.

He served in several capacities within OTC Logistics as Test Support Officer, Division Chief, Deputy Director and as acting Director.

The Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in October 1994, has served to honor Soldiers and Civilians for their commitment to putting the best possible equipment and systems into the hands of Soldiers in both training and combat conditions.

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About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

Operational testing began Oct. 1, 1969, and as the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC is celebrating “50 Years of Operational Testing.” The unit enlists the “Total Army” (Active, National Guard, and Reserve) when testing Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer – the American Soldier.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Fort Hood’s 89th Military Police Brigade will host the post’s National Hispanic Heritage Month Observance featuring Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra from 11:30 – 12:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Phantom Warrior Center here.

The event, whose theme is “Many Backgrounds, Many Stories, One American Spirit,” is open to the public. For more information, call (254) 630-9165.

Media who wish to cover this event should register on the Fort Hood Press Center here. On Sept. 19, media should meet public affairs at the south side parking lot of the visitors’ center at 11 a.m.

By Capt. Benjamin J. Borys, Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command 

FORT LEE, Virginia – The only Army active duty mortuary affairs units are taking part in operational testing of the new Contaminated Human Remains Transfer – Case here. 

CHRT is a triple-layered, leak-proof packaging system for the storage and transport of contaminated human remains for final internment. 

Soldiers from both the 111th and 54th Quartermaster Companies (Mortuary Affairs) employed multiple CHRT-C systems under the observation of the West Fort Hood, Texas-based U.S. Army Operational Test Command. 

The teams conducted various missions preparing simulated contaminated human remains for safe air transport from overseas to the U.S. 

The Joint Mortuary Affairs Center conducted New Equipment Training of the CHRT-C with the Soldiers from the two Quartermaster companies September 10 and 11. 

The Soldiers were taught how to operate the various components to include the Molten Bead Extrusion Applicator, which is used to the seal the inner layer. 

Throughout the training, the JMAC instructor emphasized the Mortuary Affairs Creed of “Dignity, Reverence, Respect.” 

“Any time you are dealing with casualties, it is a delicate subject,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Colling, CHRT-C Test NCOIC with USAOTC’s Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate. 

“Regardless of the operating environment, this system will allow everyone to return home,” he said. 

One Soldier said participating in the test highlighted her skills as a mortuary affairs specialist. 

“I think they’re doing a really good job in helping us understand this new technology, while remembering reverence, dignity and respect for the dead,” said Spc. Sophie Celeski, of the 111th QM Company. 

After the pilot test, the 111th’s platoon leader said he appreciated the opportunity for him and his Soldiers to offer their feedback. 

“It feels good that we have an opportunity to give our opinions and feedback on the system,” said 2nd Lt. Carlos Lopezmelendez. 

“I think it’s great that we’re using the actual personnel who would be using this equipment.”

FORT HOOD, Texas — Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division are scheduled to hold a ceremonial cake cutting for the division’s 98th birthday on Sept. 13 at 9 a.m. at the 1st Cavalry Division museum.

Media are invited to attend.

Media wishing to attend should RSVP to Master Sgt. Jacob Caldwell via email at jacob.s.caldwell.mil@mail.mil or via phone at 254-661-0155.

Attending media will meet their escort at the Fort Hood Visitors Center in the media parking area no later than 8:30 a.m on Sept. 13.

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Photos from the 1st Cavalry Division birthday ceremony on Sep. 13, 2018 at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum on Fort Hood. This year’s event will be visually similar.
Photos from the 1st Cavalry Division birthday ceremony on Sep. 13, 2018 at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum on Fort Hood. This year’s event will be visually similar.
Photos from the 1st Cavalry Division birthday ceremony on Sep. 13, 2018 at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum on Fort Hood. This year’s event will be visually similar.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Members of the greater Fort Hood community are invited to “The Right Talent, Right Now” event as part of National Disability Awareness Month 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Fort Hood Community Events Center here.

The event will feature information about assistive technologies, electronic accommodations, disabilities A to Z, reasonable accommodations for disabilities, employment and benefits and more.

For more information, call (254) 287-3602 or (254) 287-0245.

Media who wish to cover the event should register here. On Sept. 13, media should meet public affairs representatives at 10 a.m. in the south side parking lot of the Marvin Leath Visitors Center for escort to the event.

 

FORT HOOD, Texas– Fort Hood officials have released the name of a Soldier who died on Sept. 5 from injuries sustained while conducting maintenance on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle here.

Pfc. Mason Webber, 22, whose home of record is listed as Marion, Iowa entered the Army in March 2018 as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle System Maintainer and has been assigned to 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division since August 2018.

Webber’s awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

“The Darkhorse Squadron is deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of Private First Class Mason Webber,” said Lt. Col. Adam Cannon, commander, 4-9 CAV . “We send our most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Pfc. Webber. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them in this trying time. He was an indelible part of the squadron and his loss is deeply felt.”

There is currently no photo available. If one becomes available, this release will be updated at www.forthoodpresscenter.com.

The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center.

 

FORT HOOD, Texas — Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps commander, and III Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel T. Hendrex will case the III Corps colors at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 4 at the III Corps flag pole signifying the beginning of the unit’s year-long deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

The command will lead a regional campaign of coalition and international partners synchronizing military activities as the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

Media interested in covering the event should register here no later than 4 p.m. Sept. 3. Gate time for the event is 8:45 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Southside parking lot of the Marvin Leath Visitors Center.

(From left-to-right) Mr. John W. Diem, U.S. Army Operational Test Command (OTC) Executive Director; Col. Ronald R. Ragin, OTC Commander; Command Sgt. Maj. William A. Justice, OTC Command Sergeant Major; Ms. Bonnie A. McIlrath, Director, Test Technology Directorate, OTC; Col. Patrick E. Curry, Director, Mission Command Test Directorate, OTC; Mr. William J. McKiernan, Deputy Director, Maneuver Test Directorate, OTC; Ms. Sara A. Van Dusen, Deputy Director & Senior Test Manager, Aviation Test Directorate, OTC; and Mr. William G. Adams, Director, Methodology & Analysis Test Directorate, OTC, join together in the ribbon cutting to officially open the equipment testing unit’s new Technology Integration Center Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. (Photo by Mr. William C. Beach, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Test and Documentation Team)

By Michael M. Novogradac, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

WEST FORT HOOD, Texas — A new building serving as a technology collaboration hub opened here Wednesday, along with an announcement of a cyber education plan among Fort Hood’s academic, community, and industry partners.

The Army Test and Evaluation Command’s Technology Integration Center (ATIC) was dedicated to the memory of Arthur “Art” Roy Woods III, an equipment testing Hall of Famer who was committed to putting the best possible battlefield equipment into the hands of Soldiers.

“The ATIC opens as the Army undertakes major reforms to its acquisition processes and organizations,” said Mr. John W. Diem, Executive Director of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command.

“These partnerships will be essential as we seek better ways to respond to the Army’s call for increased readiness and more rapid modernization.”

He said Army and the community’s surrounding academic entities will prepare today’s young people with training and education tools so the Army can combat future threats through OTC’s operational testing mission.

“OTC must depend even more on our community and our academic partners to provide the training needed to keep today’s workforce relevant and prepared for the future,” said Diem.

 “I want to give a special shout out to the many members of the Art Woods fan club that are here,” he said. “This facility honors a great tester that I got to work for and I hope maybe emulated a little bit in my career — Art Woods.”

Woods’ son Walter Johnson spoke to help memorialize his father’s legacy.

Speaking off the cuff, he told the crowd of nearly 175 that he merely wanted to say “Thanks.”

Johnson spoke of how his father brought him to Central Texas when he was in the fifth-grade.

“It sounds like this morning some of you might remember my father — you might have been here when he worked here,” he said.

“He was always battling chronic back pain. I used to always tell him, ‘Dad, it’s time. It is time for you to retire, get off your feet, get in the hot tub with a stiff drink, watch some Washington Redskins football, and it’s time for you to retire,’” Johnson continued.

“But I could never get him to do it. He would not do it. And he wouldn’t do it because he loved his job so much, and he loved his West Fort Hood family so much. And on a day like today, and a gesture like this, it’s easy to see why he felt that way.”

Mr. Walter Johnson, son of Arthur “Art” Woods III, the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Hall of Famer of 2007 who was committed to putting the best possible battlefield equipment into the hands of Soldiers, speaks as OTC’s new Technology Integration Center is dedicated to his father Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. (Photo by Mr. Tad Browning, Lead Audiovisual Production Specialist, Test Documentation Team, U.S. Army Operational Test Command)

OTC’s commander said he was excited about the “Cyber Information Sharing Pledge” charter signing between OTC, Killeen Independent School District, Central Texas College and Texas A&M University-Central Texas and the announcement of a TAMU-CT Research Park.

“This pledge will lay a critical foundation of trust, partnership and commitment that will be central as we chart the future collaborative endeavors,” said Col Ronald R. Ragin.

“I’m excited about the potential the future holds,” he said.

“What starts here changes the world,” he continued. “What starts here today truly has the potential to give our Army an edge in the future battlefield.”

He said the new ATIC technology laboratory is all about triumph.

Mr. William Woods (left) and his brother Mr. Walter Johnson, listen to remarks Wednesday Aug. 28, 2019 as the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s new Technology Integration Center is dedicated to their father Arthur “Art” Woods III, OTC’s Hall of Famer of 2007 who was committed to putting the best possible battlefield equipment into the hands of Soldiers. (Photo by Mr. William C. Beach, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Test and Documentation Team)

“What starts here today is all about giving our Soldiers the most survivable, reliable and lethal equipment on the battlefield,” Ragin said. “It’s about winning overwhelmingly, every time, against any adversary, anywhere, any place at any time.”

Ragin said the ATIC facility will give the Soldiers the edge by connecting test technology developers and users worldwide with other engineers, analysts and technicians with academia while supporting efforts of Army Futures Command.

Inside the new building, technology demonstrations by Electronic Proving Ground, Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Redstone Test Center, Huntsville, Alabama;  Aberdeen Test Center, Aberdeen, Maryland; and Project Manager Instrumentation, Targets and Threat Simulators, and SOF Training Systems, Orlando, Florida each presented static displays. 

(From left-to-right) Killeen ISD Superintendent Dr. John Craft; Central Texas College Chancellor Jim Yeonopolus; Texas A&M University-Central Texas President Marc Nigliazzo; and Mr. John W. Diem, Executive Director of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, display the “Cyber Information Sharing Pledge” Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, which is expected to build a critical foundation of trust, partnership and commitment that will be central as the four entities enter future collaborative endeavors. (Photo by Mr. Tad Browning, Lead Audiovisual Production Specialist, Test Documentation Team, U.S. Army Operational Test Command)

Ground breaking ceremonies shifted to announcing OTC’s partnerships in the academic community, where area educators shared their thoughts on the concept of building a research park on the TAMU-CT campus.

“There has always been that relationship with Fort Hood as part of our history,” said Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, TAMU-CT’s president. “This concept of Research Park has really come into being in large part because of this relationship with Operational Test Command, and the opportunities we have seen through their eyes of relationships that can be established through the university system.”

He said the relationship creates the opportunity for the kind of research and industrial activity to take place in the Central Texas region.

John Crutchield, president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, described his organization’s mission to convene meetings with all players.

“When you’ve got an economic engine like Fort Hood in your community, it’s hard to diversify, so what you do is you use Fort Hood to diversify,” he said.

When speaking of TAMU-CT’s partnership with OTC, he said, “We want it to be more than an educational institution. We want it to be the second largest economic development driver in the region, second only to Fort Hood. And the research park is one way to get there.”

Killeen ISD Superintendent Dr. John Craft said KISD serves about 46,000 students while employing 7,000 in Central Texas.

“We are providing tremendous opportunities for our students,” he said. “We recently just expanded our science, technology, engineering and mathematics program which we have right now over 12 hundred high school students engaged in a dual credit opportunity pathway with about 16 different tracts for students.”

Craft said his students can obtain anywhere from 30 to 60 hours of college credit prior to graduation, which readies them to move on to higher education, and even the military.

Starting at high school, the pledge provides for educated youngsters to enter higher learning and eventually contribute to their communities.

Central Texas College Chancellor Jim Yeonopolus echoed the need for the community partnership with OTC and said, “To serve this community, Fort Hood is one of our biggest partners. We wouldn’t be doing this without Fort Hood. We wouldn’t be here without Fort Hood.”

Diem followed OTC’s new teammates saying how important the relationship of the schools and OTC is about to become.

“We’re getting ready to sign a charter that says we’re going to be very deliberate going forward to work, to develop the workforce and the next workforce, and the workforce after that,” he said.

The plaque of Arthur “Art” Woods III, the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Hall of Famer of 2007, was unveiled during grand opening ceremonies of OTC’s new Technology Integration Center Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. Woods was committed to putting the best possible battlefield equipment into the hands of Soldiers through operational testing. (Photo by Mr. William C. Beach, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Test and Documentation Team)