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The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) announced last week that retired Lt. Gen. Julius Becton Jr. passed away on November 28 at the age of 97. Becton was a long-time member of the association’s board of directors and was awarded the George Catlett Marshall Medal, which is AUSA’s highest award.

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Becton joined AUSA’s Board of Directors in 1994 and served for 13 years. In 2007, he was awarded the Marshall Medal for his lifetime of service as a soldier, leader, educator, administrator, mentor, and role model.

Born on June 29, 1926, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Becton first volunteered for Army service in 1944 to become a pilot. However, he was disqualified due to astigmatism and instead qualified for Officer Candidate School.

Becton became a second lieutenant in 1945 with the all-Black 93rd Infantry Division and served in the Pacific at the end of World War II. In 1946, he transferred from active duty to the Army Reserve but re-entered active service in 1948. Over the next 35 years, Becton led America’s soldiers in combat in Korea and Vietnam, and in Cold War operations. His key assignments included commanding the 1st Cavalry Division, the Army Operations Test and Evaluation Agency, and the VII Corps in Germany during the Cold War.

Before retiring from the Army in 1983, Becton’s final assignment was deputy commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command. His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Combat Infantryman Badge with star for service in Korea and Vietnam.

After retiring from the Army, Becton became president of his alma mater, Prairie View A&M University in Texas, where he launched a new era of fiscal and academic accountability. In 1985, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, becoming the first Black person to hold that position.

During the 2017 event at AUSA, retired Gen. Carter Ham, former AUSA president and CEO, described Becton as “a man who has lived through extraordinary change and service.”


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