III Corps, Ft. Hood commander: ‘I am a Phantom Warrior’
III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II recently received a hearty welcome home to the “Great Place,” Fort Hood, Texas.
The Fort Hood-Central Texas Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army hosted a welcome reception for Funk during its general membership meeting held at the Phantom Warrior Center.
The meeting also included remarks from the AUSA president and CEO, retired Gen. F. Carter Ham and a ceremony recognizing Vietnam veterans.
Before remarks from Funk and Ham, AUSA members paused to honor two veterans as part of the organization’s ongoing partnership with the United States of America’s Vietnam War Commemoration, a nationwide effort to honor these veterans.
“They’re doing now what should have been done some 50 years ago,” Bobby Hoxworth, chapter past president, said. “That is to formally thank and honor our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.”
Retired Gen. Robert Shoemaker, retired Lt. Gen. Pete Taylor and retired Lt. Gen. Paul “Butch” Funk presented a lapel pin to a Navy corpsman and an Air Force master sergeant who served during the Vietnam War.
The commemoration efforts include service members from all branches who served during the Vietnam War period, Hoxworth said.
Following the recognition, retired Maj. Gen. Ken Cox introduced the III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general as a “great friend of Central Texas.”
Funk opened his remarks in his usual fashion before delivering a heartfelt thank you to the Central Texas community.
“My name is Funk and I am a Phantom Warrior,” he said before adding that he was not going to discuss his priorities for III Corps and Fort Hood, but instead, talk about his pride in his hometown and the Army.
He said, “What I really wanted to say is: ‘Thanks for raising me, thanks for raising my family,’ I love Central Texas.”
Funk, who was born at Fort Hood and has served various assignments at the “Great Place” throughout his career, was emotional during his remarks. He expressed his love for serving in the Army, service that has spanned his entire 55 years.
“I love being soldier. To be able to come home and be a soldier is incredible,” Funk said. “I was raised by the Army. I don’t know anything else.
“So when I get the opportunity to say ‘thank you,’ for raising me, I mean it,” he said.
While introducing Ham, Funk said the retired general is a personal mentor of his and noted that like himself, Ham once led the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.
Ham retired from the Army in 2013 as the commander of U.S. Africa Command.
He assumed the presidency of AUSA last summer when retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, a former Army chief of staff, stepped down.
Ham noted in his remarks that he never served at Fort Hood; so he views the “Great Place” from a different perspective, but the connection between the installation and the surrounding communities is palpable.
“You feel it,” he said. “It’s in every fiber of this community.”
Ham said soldiers often are thanked for their service and sometimes that sentiment is just words. Not here.
“You don’t have to say it because you live it” Ham said. “You feel it when you come here that you love soldiers and their families.”
That is the tie that Ham works to achieve with AUSA.
“We have only one mission – support America’s soldier, that’s what we do,” he said.
Adding, “We owe them the very best support we can give them each and every day.”