The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command held a ceremony at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Oct. 29 to rename a conference room in honor of an employee who passed away in 2020.
Don Edward Becton Sr. was the AMCOM Command Audit Readiness Office chief at the time of his death. Some of his family members traveled from Georgia to be at the program; others watched a live stream of the event.
Becton was an Augusta, Georgia, native who was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant in 1976. He served 11 years and earned the rank of captain before becoming a Department of the Army civilian.
“Don joined the predecessor to AMCOM [U.S. Army Missile Command] in 1989 as an accounting intern and dedicated his entire 32-year career to AMCOM, culminating as the command audit readiness chief,” said AMCOM G-8 Director Dale Smith. “In other words, Don rose from an intern to a GS-15, all in the same organization.”
“At one point, Don was personally responsible for ensuring that almost all of the Army civilians on Redstone Arsenal got paid – all of them, not just here at AMCOM,” Smith said. “This was a monumental task, considering that he was solely responsible for the pay of over 10,000 people.”
Smith spoke of Becton’s efforts to overcome challenges, connecting key players to facilitate teamwork and how he led by example.
“He proved that he was a subject matter expert on a number of issues and earned a well-deserved reputation for excellence with our higher headquarters and with senior officials at the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense. But don't believe me,” Smith said. “Believe the former deputy secretary of defense. After Don passed, the Honorable David Norquist sent a letter to Don Jr., saying in part, ‘We are thankful for your father's hard work, dedication and selfless service over his entire career. When asked who should be recognized for superior performance throughout the Department of Defense audit, Department of the Army senior leaders pointed to him.’”
The Becton Room is an AMCOM G-8 conference room. Outside the room is the leader wall that featured official photos of division chiefs.
“[Becton] became the audit readiness chief while this area was under renovation,” Smith said. “He would often talk about how his picture would be hung on the leader wall once the construction was complete – something that really brought him great pride.”
Becton didn’t live to see his photo hung on the wall.
“This prompted us to think of a way to appropriately memorialize Don,” Smith said.
The Army Memorial Program outlines the official process to memorialize deceased Department of the Army military and civilian personnel who served with distinction. The U.S. Installation Management Command commander is the approval authority in facilities on most military installations. AMCOM received local authorization to make the change in late August.
In the memorialization request, AMCOM Commander Maj. Gen. Todd Royar said, “Throughout his life, Mr. Becton made a positive impact on the Army and all associated organizations for which he worked or supported. Not only did he leave a lasting impression as a change agent for continuous improvement with AMCOM and Redstone Arsenal, but also his leadership and dedication to high school athletics influenced many communities throughout the state. His passion and devotion to his work and life missions are qualities to be emulated by all.”
“I can’t begin to tell you what an honor this is,” said Patricia Becton Wilker, Becton’s sister.
She said her brother was always about excellence and that he never talked about how significant his positions were at work. He was humble.
In a lighter moment, his sister shared that Becton did not like to fly unless it was absolutely necessary for work. When he died, the family planned to have him transported by plane to Augusta.
“The funeral director called me and said, ‘You know, we had a problem; his weight was one pound over the limit so we're going to have the drive from Birmingham to Augusta,” Wilker said, adding that she could only laugh. “He has the last say so; he’s still doing things his way.”
“We are very, very grateful and very thankful that Don's legacy will live on, not just in the Becton Room, but we would like to think that it will live on in the lives of those who worked with him, who knew him [and] who touched him,” Wilker said. “So, on behalf of the family, we thank you.”
The Becton Room now stands as a permanent memorial to honor him and his service.