American Veterans Center's "2008 Raymond G. Davis Award"
This autobiography, published in cooperation with the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), highlights Lt. Gen. Becton's remarkable career and reveals the influences that contributed to his success. Becton's autobiography reflects on his youth in the suburban Philadelphia area, his parental and family influences, and his almost forty years of service in the U.S. Army and in subsequent civilian appointments. His devotion to leadership, education, service, race, and his spiritual upbringing are all central themes in the book.
After finishing high school, Becton entered a segregated Army at age eighteen and over nearly forty years rose to the rank of lieutenant general. Two years after enlisting in the Army Air Corps Enlisted Reserve, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry and subsequently fought with distinction in the Korean War. Integrated into the Regular Army in 1951, he went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics and economics and held combat commands in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He commanded the legendary 1st Cavalry Division in 1975–76. Promoted to lieutenant general in 1978, he served as commanding general of the U.S. VII Corps in Germany and deputy commander of Training and Doctrine Command and the Army Inspector of Training before retiring in 1983.
Following retirement he entered fields of international disaster assistance, emergency management, and education. Becton joined the Reagan administration in 1984 as Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for the Agency for International Development. From 1985 to 1989 he was director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Over the next six years, he was the COO of American Coastal Industries and president of Prairie View A&M University. His final civilian post was as CEO/Superintendent of public schools in the District of Columbia. Becton was listed several times by Ebony magazine as "One of the 100 Most Influential Blacks in America."
In 2007 he was selected to receive the George Catlett Marshall Medal, the highest award presented by the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) for being a "soldier, combat commander, administrator, educator, public servant, government leader, and role model."
Lt. Gen. Julius W. Becton Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.), is a resident of Springfield, VA. He wrote the foreword for 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion in World War II and The Exclusion of Black Soldiers from the Medal of Honor in World War II.
"This is the straightforward and impressive memoir of a great and path-breaking American. He fought for his country in three wars, overcame many obstacles to reach an unprecedentedly high rank in the army, and was later the innovative head of both a university and a federal agency. His integrity has inspired many others at different stages of his life. He writes with the honesty, humor, and family feeling that makes this a rewarding human story. He has included principles of leadership, which have the authority of someone who has derived them from experience and exemplified them in his life." −James H. Billington, author of Russia in Search of Itself
"Julius Becton served from Army private to 3-star general in three wars and 40 years; afterward he headed FEMA, and later was a university president. His service was exceptional; his life remarkable; his story fascinating and inspirational. Becton is a real American hero." —Joseph L. Galloway, syndicated columnist and co-author of Triumph without Victory and We Were Soliders Once...and Young