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Julius Wesley Becton, Jr.
Born June 29, 1926(1926-06-29) (age 95)
Place of birth Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch U.S. Army
FEMA (1985-1989)
Years of service 1944-1946
1948-1983
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Commands held VII Corps
1st Cavalry Division
Battles/wars

World War II
Korean War
Cold War

Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Purple Heart (2)
Other work Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Julius Wesley Becton, Jr. (born June 29, 1926) is a retired United States Army lieutenant general, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and education administrator.

Early life and education[edit | edit source]

Becton was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on June 29, 1926. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in July 1944 and graduated infantry Officer Candidate School in 1945 and served with 93rd Infantry Division. He separated from the Army in 1946, but returned to service after President Harry S. Truman's executive order to integrate the U.S. Armed Forces in 1948.

Career[edit | edit source]

Becton went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant general in 1978 and command of VII Corps in Europe during the Cold War. Among his decorations were the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merit medals, and two Purple Hearts, along with the Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of Germany.

While in the service, Becton graduated from Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University (Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics in 1960), the University of Maryland (Master's Degree in Economics in 1966). He also graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the National War College.

Becton retired from the U.S. Army in 1983, after nearly 40 years of service. However, his public service career was far from over. From 1984 to 1985, he served as the Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in the United States Agency for International Development (US AID). He then served as the Director of FEMA from 1985 to 1989 under President Ronald Reagan.

In his mid-60s, Becton began a new career, that of education administrator. From 1989 to 1994, Becton was the fifth president of Prairie View A&M University (his alma mater). President Becton was the first graduate of Prairie View A&M University to attain flag rank in the military.

In 1996, he became the Superintendent of the Washington, D.C. public school system.

Becton now serves as a director to several corporations, academic institutions, and associations. His many honors include being named several times by Ebony magazine as "One of the 100 Most Influential Blacks in America," and he has also received the Distinguished Service Award Association of the U.S. Army and the Boy Scouts of America's Silver Beaver Award. His autobiography, Becton: Autobiography of a Soldier and Public Servant, was published in 2008 by Naval Institute Press.

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Becton and his wife Louise reside at The Fairfax in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The couple has five grown children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Decorations[edit | edit source]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
V
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Combat Infantryman Badge with one star
1st Row Army Distinguished Service Medal
2nd Row Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster Distinguished Flying Cross Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster
3rd Row Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and "V" Device Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster Meritorious Service Medal
4th Row American Campaign Medal Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal
5th Row National Defense Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster Korean Service Medal with one service star Vietnam Service Medal with one service star Philippine Independence Medal
6th Row United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Vietnam Campaign Medal Grand Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

References[edit | edit source]

  • Julius W. Becton Jr. (2008). Becton: Autobiography of a Soldier and Public Servant. Naval Institute Press. 
  • Interview at the Pritzker Military Library
Government offices
Preceded by
Louis O. Giuffrida
Federal Emergency Management Agency director
1985-1989
Succeeded by
Robert H. Morris (acting)

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