KILLEEN — More than 750 Shoemaker High School students, staff and Fort Hood area dignitaries celebrated retired Gen. Robert M. Shoemaker’s 92nd birthday at the high school bearing his name Feb. 18.
Nearly a dozen of the school’s groups and clubs performed for the retired general, followed by a cake-cutting ceremony and refreshments.
The auditorium at Shoemaker High School was standing room only, overflowing with affection and appreciation from students, faculty, family and local community leaders who came to honor the former four-star general.
“How blessed are we that we have such a man such as our dear Gen. Shoemaker, as not only our namesake, but as our benefactor and our Grey Wolf grandfather,” said JROTC cadet Capt. Joshua Rillera, a senior at Shoemaker High School.
Rillera went on to echo the sentiments of many other students as he described Shoemaker’s leadership, generosity and support in the community and school, asking God for a special blessing for “Shoemaker and his family, that all his days may be filled with faith, hope and love.”
Proclaiming Shoemaker High School as Gen. Shoemaker’s “home away from home,” Killeen Independent School District Superintendent John Craft said there have only been 227 four-star generals since the Army’s inception and that Shoemaker shares the esteemed position with the likes of George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and Douglas MacArthur.
“Gen. Shoemaker remains a testament to the type of character we should all aspire to emulate; a committed soldier, a dedicated patriot and a compassionate community leader,” Craft said. “Robert M. Shoemaker remains a perfect illustration of what it means to be an American citizen.”
Killeen Mayor Scott Cosper declared Feb. 18, 2016, “General Robert M. Shoemaker Day” in the city, wishing him a happy 92nd birthday and best wishes and gratitude.
During the celebration, Shoemaker was treated to performances by the school’s cheerleaders, Grey Wolf Band, Theatre Arts and color guard, ending in a rousing rendition of the Army Song.
Nearing the end of the celebration, Shoemaker and his wife, Tuke, were escorted to the auditorium’s stage where he cut his birthday cake with a saber presented to him by a Shoemaker High JROTC cadet. Students were able to wish Shoemaker a happy birthday and take pictures with him.
Representing Fort Hood, III Corps deputy commander, Maj. Gen. John Uberti, spoke at the celebration calling Shoemaker a “patriarch of the modern United States Army, of the United States Forces Command, of the 3rd Corps, of the 1st Cavalry Division, of the city of Killeen, and of Central Texas.” Uberti called Shoemaker the “true embodiment of a servant leader” and wished him a “happy and healthy 92nd birthday, and many more,” on behalf of the 95,000 soldiers of III Corps.
Shoemaker, who commanded III Corps and later U.S. Army Forces Command, retired as a general after 36 years in the U.S. Army.
Shoemaker was born on Feb. 18, 1924, in Almont, Mich.