By Kevin M. Smith
Killeen Daily Herald
The homecoming for Steve Hanik's father will be one of a different sort.
While many soldiers are coming back to Central Texas from Iraq, Steve Hanik Sr. will be coming back to Central Texas from another part of the state to be laid in his final resting place – again.
Hanik is trying to get his father's remains moved from Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.
In 2000, Hanik's father, who was retired from the Army, died at the age of 78. He was buried at Fort Sam Houston.
"His wish was a veterans cemetery," Hanik said.
The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery was dedicated in October 2005. Hanik's mother, Elizabeth, died Dec. 11, 2007, and was buried at the cemetery.
"The original intent would have been to bury her with dad at Fort Sam Houston," Hanik said.
Moving someone to the cemetery in Killeen is not uncommon. Jack Slayton, director of Texas State Veterans Cemeteries, said last year there were a couple of cases of people having family members' bodies moved from the Fort Sam Houston cemetery to the Central Texas cemetery.
He said during the first year after the Central Texas cemetery opened, 10 bodies were moved from Fort Sam Houston to Central Texas.
"For those that wish to do so, we encourage it," Slayton said.
The family has to work through a funeral home to have the body disinterred and moved at the funeral home's price.
"It's pretty straightforward," Slayton said.
Hanik is working with Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home in Killeen. Dan Carter, of Crawford-Bowers, said the funeral home has a standard procedure for moving a body that includes obtaining permits and transporting the body.
The Hanik family has called Central Texas home since 1959.
"I'm an Army brat," Hanik said. "Fort Hood was one of our last stops."
Hanik was 6 years old when his father was stationed at Fort Hood. They lived in Killeen until 1963 when Hanik's father was stationed in Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii. He retired from the military in 1965 and returned to Killeen.
"We've enjoyed the area," Hanik said.
Hanik and his wife, who was born and raised in Killeen, lived in Central Texas until 1980 when the couple's jobs with Embarq took them to Las Vegas. An opportunity to continue working with Embarq in Central Texas came about three years ago, so they moved to Salado.
"We knew we were going to move back home eventually," Hanik said.
His mother and sister still lived in the area.
"That was a big part of our coming back. This is still home," Hanik said.
He said his mother and father were active in the community after his dad retired from the Army. His father worked for the U.S. Post Office in Killeen for about 20 years. Hanik said his mother and father were active with the local American Legion and supported the effort to bring a veterans cemetery to Killeen.
"When Mom died, it was obvious this was a good chance to honor what they worked for," Hanik said.
He said his sister, who still lives in the area, came to that conclusion when they were making their mother's funeral arrangements.
"We kind of looked at each other and said, 'This is home,'" Hanik said.
He said it's appropriate to have the couple buried next to each other near the largest military installation in the U.S.
"Mom was a war bride. They married just prior to World War II," Hanik said. "They were both all Army."
Hanik said the couple traveled together and made many friends who were associated with the Army.
"It was a good life for them," he said.
There will not be another ceremony for his father, Hanik said, adding that it will be nice to have both his mother and father close to him.
"Dad's been dead for seven years, and he is getting orders to move again," Hanik said he joked with his sister. "Once you're in the Army, you're never out."
Contact Kevin M. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7550