Most famous folks who have lived in the Killeen area came by either during their time in the Army or as an Army brat. Perhaps the most famous and accomplished truly “native” Fort Hood resident is Oveta Culp Hobby. But a few other folks you’ve probably heard of have called it home!
Oveta Culp Hobby
Oveta Culp was born in Killeen in 1905.
In 1931, she married the former Governor of Texas William Hobby. Her son would serve as Texas’ Lieutenant Governor for an unbroken record of 18 years, after whom Houston’s airport is named.
During World War II she was a leader of the Women’s Army Corps, rising to the rank of colonel, and the first Army woman to receive the Distinguished Service Medal.
In 1953, Hobby, previously a Democrat, joined the Republican Eisenhower administration with the Federal Security Agency, and then was the first cabinet leader of the newly created Department of Health, Education and Welfare (today the Department of Health and Human Services).
Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III, or “RG3”, was an Army brat whose father settled in Copperas Cove after retiring from the Army as an NCO in 1997.
RG3 attended Copperas Cove High School, where he competed in basketball, as the teams’ football quarterback, and a Texas record-breaking hurdler in track.
Highly sought by colleges, he chose Baylor University in Waco, winning the Heisman Trophy award in 2011, the top honor for college football players.
The Washington Redskins drafted RG3 second overall in the 2012 draft. Griffin broke the rookie records for highest passer rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio and took the Redskins to the postseason for the first time in 5 years. A tragic ACL injury upended his career early and he is currently a free agent in the NFL.
A Brief History of Fort Hood, TX
- Killeen began as a railroad stop among cotton farms
- Prior to World War II, today’s town of 130,000+ had a mere 1200 residents
- Killeen has grown to the largest city in Central Texas between Austin and Dallas
GEN Robert Shoemaker
Plenty of Generals, including Patton, have made their way through the Fort Hood area at one point or another in their time in the Army. Michigan native General Shoemaker stands apart because he chose to make the area his home, and had a strong presence in the community long after he left the military.
A West Point graduate, III Corps and FORSCOM commander, he retired in 1982 to the Fort Hood area. His contributions to the area included participation leading the Boy Scouts, President of the United Way chapter, President of the 1st Cavalry Division Association, and other civic involvement resulted in the city naming a high school in his honor. General Shoemaker passed away June 21, 2017 at the age of 93.
Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, was born in 1935 and at 18 had his first recording. By 1956, he was a breakout star and drawing huge crowds, and in 1957 would purchase his famous home in Graceland, Tennessee.
Elvis was drafted into the military in 1958 after he was already a global sensation. The Army sent Elvis to Fort Hood for his training, where he continued recording songs on his time off. The home he lived in at 605 Oakhill still stands and is privately owned.
After training, he joined the 3rd Armored Division in Germany. After two years’ service, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant.
After leaving the Army, he began doing films and continued his music. He would pass away at the age of 42 in 1977 from years of prescription drug abuse that had slowly eroded his health.
The US Army drafted Jackie Robinson in 1942, initially serving at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant (2LT) in 1943. In 1944, he was reassigned to Camp Hood, Texas. He served with 761st Tank Battalion.
He would leave the Army that same year without seeing action in Europe, due to a court-martial for declining to sit in the back of an Army bus. The Army ultimately found him not guilty.
In 1947, he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in major league baseball. He was the first African-American major league baseball player, and earned the MLB Rookie of the Year award. He played all ten of his seasons for the Dodgers. In those ten seasons, he helped take the Dodgers to six World Series and played himself in six All-Star games. He was a first-ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame in 1962.