By Hayley Kappes
Killeen Daily Herald
SALADO – The sole order of the night was to have fun.
But it was a bittersweet good-bye for 12 Central Texas cities as they bade farewell to the 4th Infantry Division Wednesday at Tenroc Ranch.
The evening began by welcoming Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond and his family, who received honors from each city during a barbecue dinner with more than 400 guests.
Officials and residents from Belton, Cedar Park, Copperas Cove, Gatesville, Georgetown, Hutto, Killeen, Lampasas, Round Rock, Salado and Temple showed support for the division, which is relocating to Fort Carson, Colo., by reiterating Central Texas will always be a place they can call home.
"When you lose a whole division, it's a big deal, but it's not about losing the numbers, we're losing fine soldiers," said Charlotte Douglass, a member of the Salado Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. "They've been an integral part of our community for as long as I can remember."
Douglass said the evening's purpose was to let the division know the whole community will miss it.
Greg Schannep, U.S. Rep. John Carter's aide and a retired military chaplain (with the rank of colonel), offered an invocation before dinner in honor of Hammond and his wife, Diane, wishing them well for the future.
Harker Heights City Councilman Sam Murphey attended the dinner with his wife, Peggy, and reflected on the 4th Infantry's departure marking an end of Fort Hood's history as a two-division post.
"I think it's going to be a sad day for Central Texas when this division leaves," Murphey said. "I think in a Central Texas fashion we're going to embrace the people who are coming in. Fort Hood's not called the 'Great Place' for no reason at all."
Killeen Mayor Timothy Hancock presented Hammond a flag that flew over City Hall July 4 and a coin commemorating Killeen's 125th anniversary.
Belton Mayor Jim Covington gave the Hammonds a framed print of the city's historic buildings and an honorary brick in downtown's Patriot Way Project.
"We're going to hate to see them leave, but we know Colorado is a great place to go," said Bell County Commissioner John Fisher. "We know that Fort Hood is stabilizing its numbers through all the re-organization. They will do what Fort Hood has always done: regroup."
Contact Hayley Kappes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.