U.S. Operational Test Command inducted Thomas R. Hammond into its Testers’ Hall of Fame during the 19th annual induction ceremony held Thursday at its West Fort Hood headquarters.

“Thomas Hammond truly is the kind of rare individual who makes organizations better by being a part of it,” said Col. Joseph M. Martin, commander of Operational Test Command.

Hammond, the 33rd inductee to the hall of fame, spent 52 years in federal service, first in the Navy, then Army, from which he retired as a command sergeant major in 1977, and finally as a civilian test officer for the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate at Fort Bragg, N.C.

But the beginnings of his Army career weren’t so easy.

During his remarks, Hammond shared a story from basic training. He wrote a letter home to his mother, shortly after arriving to Fort Jackson, S.C., to give her his address.

“I had no idea she would write a letter back to my company commander, who passed it on to my drill sergeant,” he said. The sergeant read it out loud so that everyone knew “mommy was asking us to take care of her boy.”

He continued on after a stint with special forces, and found himself testing the Army’s future equipment. Hammond planned, executed and reported on more than 46 various operational tests involving airborne operations and specific equipment used during these operations. Some of his tests included the flameless ration heater, light-tactical all-terrain vehicle and the C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft.

“I’m so grateful and proud to be honored in this way,” said Hammond.

The hall of fame began in 1994 and records the history of operational testing by recognizing the contributions of the Army’s talented military and civilian workforce.

Previous inductees include retired Gen. Robert Shoemaker, Col. Edward Derr and Wayland D. Smith.

“One trait each of the hall of fame recipients has in common is their dedication to soldiers,” said Martin. “I think we all would agree that Tom has set a sterling example of an ambassador and role model for service and continued involvement beyond one’s professional career in retirement.”

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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