Story by Heather Ashley
Fort Hood Public Affairs
Fort Hood, Texas — Fort Hood marked the 100th anniversary of III Corps and kicked off Operation Phantom Warrior Salute during a ceremony May 16 at III Corps Headquarters.
At the same time as the Fort Hood ceremony, an observance was held downrange for those III Corps Headquarters Soldiers, including III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II and Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Crosby, who are deployed.
III Corps Deputy Commanding General Maj. Gen. JT Thomson, who presided over the ceremony at Fort Hood, recalled the history of III Corps, as well as a personal memory of living at Fort Hood as a child.
“I lived on Sadowski Road … in Chaffee Village,” he recalled. “My buddies and I came to Sadowski Field to ride the go-karts, six laps for 50 cents, thanks to then-Lt. Gen. Robert Shoemaker.”
III Corps was organized May 16, 1918, in France as part of the American Expeditionary Force to fight in World War I and fought in five campaigns.
“The remarkable bravery and sacrifices of III Corps Soldiers turned the tide of World War I and brought about victory, while also laying the foundation of success for the next 100 years,” Thomson said.
During World War II, III Corps Soldiers led 3rd Army’s counterattack for Gen. George Patton at the Battle of the Bulge and secured and reinforced the Remagen bridgehead, shortening the war in Europe, the general said.
It was during World War II that the corps earned its “phantom” nickname.
“III Corps epitomized the American Army’s mastery of modern combined arms warfare, and gained its nickname as the Phantom Corps from the Germans that were continually surprised by the speed and agility of the Phantom Warriors,” Thomson said.
III Corps arrived at Fort Hood in April 1954 and was deactivated here in 1959.
In September 1961, III Corps was reactivated at Fort Hood in response to heightening tensions in Europe during the Cold War and has continued its presence in Central Texas since then.
Today, Funk and the Phantom Warriors are in the midst of III Corps’ sixth deployment in the last 14 years.
“III Corps has and continues to operate across the globe during this time of uncertainty, complexity and instability,” Thomson said, noting that 14,000 Phantom Warriors are currently deployed across the globe. “America’s Hammer is indeed on point for the nation, and for that we can be rightfully proud.”
Pride is a word often used by Phantom Warriors when they talk about being part of III Corps.
Staff Sgt. Luis Avalos, who portrayed the World War I Doughboy Soldier as part of an interactive display of Soldiers from the NCO Academy wearing period uniforms to illustrate the history of III Corps, said portraying one of the first III Corps Soldiers was a privilege and something he took pride in.
“During World War I, when III Corps stood up, we were among the first to go (overseas) and engage the enemy,” Avalos said. “I have never been a part of something so big. It’s a privilege and a fun experience being in III Corps during the 100th birthday.”
Former III Corps Commanding General retired Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk knows well the privilege of serving with III Corps. His service at Fort Hood began in the 1960s.
“I came here as a junior officer and left as a senior officer,” he said.
His son, the current III Corps commander, was born here at the old Darnall Hospital. His daughter-in-law, Dr. Beth Funk, is the daughter of a former 1st Cavalry Division commanding general.
“We have a tremendous family affinity for Fort Hood,” he said.
That affinity extends the III Corps.
“This is a great tribute to an organization that has been America’s Hammer for a long time,” the elder Funk said, noting that III Corps is among the last of the armored corps in the U.S. Army. “It’s really important that folks recognize this corps.”
Dr. Funk said it was great to see the 100th anniversary event come to fruition. She said the event was a fitting tribute, not only to the past and present Soldiers from III Corps, but to their Families and the surrounding communities as well.
“For the last 100 years, spouses and family members have been supporting their Phantom Warriors,” She said. “I feel in a special that we’re honoring them as well for 100 years of unwavering and courageous service. To see everyone come together, all of the community members, it was really just a beautiful morning.”