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LTC Ted C Connell

LTC Ted C Connell

Hamlin, Fisher County, Texas, USA
Death 16 Sep 2001 (aged 76)
Temple, Bell County, Texas, USA
Burial Killeen, Bell County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 11886557 · View Source
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New airport's namesakes honored at ceremony

WEST FORT HOOD — Ambassadors from the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce joined local leaders Friday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Ted C. Connell Terminal at the new Killeen-Fort Hood-Regional Airport.

The joint-use airport opens for air travel Monday.

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards said the event marked a great day for the future of Killeen and the greater Fort Hood area.

“Dreams do come true,” Edwards said to the crowd gathered for the ceremony. “Once in a while, the reality is even better than the dream.”

About 300 people attended Friday’s ceremony. A public grand opening runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.

Edwards paid tribute to the terminal’s namesake, calling Connell the best of the greatest generation. The City Council agreed on the terminal name just a few months before Connell died of cancer in September 2001.

The Army airfield is named for Capt. Robert Gray, a local hero who flew in Gen. James Doolittle’s raid over Tokyo. Gray died six months after the mission.

“Today I hope there is a special place in heaven, and Robert Gray and Ted Connell are looking down on you and saying, ‘Job well done, friends, job well done.”

Killeen Mayor Maureen Jouett thanked Edwards for his support of the project. Edwards, D-Waco, worked early on to help reverse legislation that prohibited joint-use operation at Fort Hood.

“We can never repay all you’ve done,” Jouett told Edwards. “But the boulevard that comes in front of the airport will bear Congressman’s Edwards’ name.”

Bell County Judge Jon Burrows told the crowd he was proud the commissioners played a part in the airport project.

“Would you ever have believed that something like this would be in the city Killeen?” Burrows said. “I’m happy the Bell County commissioners had an opportunity to participate.”

Maj. Gen. James Simmons praised the team effort between the military and civilian communities that helped accomplish the project.

“Improvements have been made on both sides,” Simmons said, noting the military improvements would aid in troop deployments and returns.

TRIBUTE TO TED C. CONNELL, A PATRIOT AND TRUE PUBLIC SERVANT -- (House of Representatives - September 25, 2001)

[Page: H6045] GPO's PDF
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. SIMPSON). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Edwards) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, September 16, Texas and the Nation lost a patriot and a true public servant, Mr. Ted C. Connell. My friend, our Nation's friend, passed away at his home in Killeen, Texas, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Ted Connell lived a life of service to others and to his beloved country. He was a World War II combat veteran, was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was a great friend of my political mentor, former Congressman Olin E. (Tiger) Teague, and he was a friend of President Lyndon Johnson and the Johnson family.

Ted Connell was born in 1924 in the small town of Hamlin, Texas, the fifth of ten sons. He dropped out of high school, but finished his diploma while serving in the U.S. Army field artillery on the island of Guam during World War II.

During his 30-month tour in the South Pacific with the 316th Tank Destroyer Battalion of the 98th Division, he also fought in Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. He eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.

While on Okinawa, in one of the bloodiest battles of the war, Ted Connell rescued a young Marine who had been shot in the chest. He sat with his mortally wounded comrade for 3 hours, comforting him in the last moments of his life. When Ted returned to the United States, he traveled to the Marine's hometown in Colorado to tell his parents in person about their son's death.

That mission of comfort and solace opened a new chapter of service in Ted Connell's life. The Marine's father was heavily involved in veteran's affairs, and encouraged Ted, young Ted Connell, to do likewise.

He did just that, becoming active in his local VFW post, and rising to the leadership at the State and national levels, culminating with his election as national Commander-in-Chief of the VFW in 1960.

Ted Connell was a friend and confidante of President Lyndon Johnson, coordinating and advancing Presidential visits to Guam, Uruguay, Central America, South Vietnam, Australia, and Pakistan, and serving as an on-scene coordinator for a meeting with Pope Paul VI with the Vatican.

He served on several congressional and Presidential fact-finding missions, taking him to Vietnam five times, to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Korea.

Ted Connell also served the State of Texas with great distinction as a member of the Texas Veterans Land Board, chairman of the Texas Veterans Commission, and as a member of the Sam Rayburn Foundation.

When his hometown of Killeen needed leadership, Ted Connell answered the call to duty once again, spearheading efforts to build the Lake Belton Dam, Central Texas College, and Metroplex Hospital, and to strengthen the U.S. Army's Fort Hood.

He served two terms as mayor of Killeen, was director and president of the Killeen Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial Foundation, a director of the Metroplex Hospital, and chairman of the hospital's building fund campaign.

Somewhere in all of this service to the public Ted Connell found time to operate his successful car dealership for 46 years, and to further leave his mark by bringing local airline service to his community. He opened an airline in 1965, eventually merging it with Hood Airlines and with Rio Airways. By 1974, Rio, serving small- and medium-sized cities in central, north, and south Texas, had become the seventh largest commuter airline in the country.

Fittingly, the Killeen City Council recently named the new passenger terminal at the about-to-be-completed,

[Page: H6046] GPO's PDF
over the next few years, Fort Hood-Killeen Joint-Use Airport in honor of this great veteran and community leader.
Ted Connell fought for his Nation, Mr. Speaker, in time of war, and served his community and country in time of peace. His indomitable optimism and love of country were quintessential American values. He represented the special spirit that makes me optimistic about our Nation's future.

As a businessman and community leader, Ted Connell worked tirelessly for jobs, prosperity, and opportunities for central Texans. His unparalleled record of public service and his enduring legacy to his community are matched only by his countless quiet acts of caring for those in need.

All those who knew or were the beneficiaries of Ted Connell and his humanity were enriched by his life and are diminished by his passing. Winston Churchill once said, ``We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.'' By that high measure, Ted Connell's life was a true success.

Mr. Speaker, if I could just finish with one story, at Ted Connell's funeral recently in Killeen, Texas, a friend of his, Gaylen Christy, told the story, in the last 2 years where he and Mr. Connell were sitting in a coffee shop, but this time Ted was a patient of chemotherapy.

Rather than worrying about his own concerns, he heard a middle-aged couple at a table nearby talking about their problems. Their son had just been assigned to Fort Hood, but recently thereafter was asked to go to serve his Nation in Bosnia as a helicopter mechanic.

Their problem was they did not know how to get their son's belongings to the airport in Austin to be freighted back to Pennsylvania to their home, and then to get their son's car back. Mr. Connell, having heard their concern over their son's matters, walked over to their table, gave them a card, and said, come talk to me at my car dealership and we will take care of your problem.

He proceeded to provide a driver and a car to take that son's belongings to Austin, Texas, and then provided a driver to drive their son's car back to Pennsylvania, and paid for that driver to fly back to Texas. When Mr. Connell made this offer to this great family, they responded to him by saying, ``Sir, we don't know how we can pay you back.'' Ted Connell's answer was, ``You have already paid me back by raising a son who was willing to serve his Nation in uniform.''

That was the man, Ted Connell. Our Nation will forever remember and be better for his spirit and public service.

Family Members






  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Rick Lewis
  • Added: 4 Oct 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11886557
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for LTC Ted C Connell (5 Dec 1924–16 Sep 2001), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11886557, citing Killeen Memorial Park, Killeen, Bell County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .