Killeen City Councilmember Jim Kilpatrick has died after being hospitalized with COVID-19, the city announced Wednesday. Kilpatrick, who earned the Silver Star while serving with the Army in Vietnam, was 74.
Kilpatrick, who died Tuesday, “was elected to represent District 3 on Killeen City Council May 9, 2015 and reelected in 2017 and 2019. He served as Mayor Pro Tem from 2017 to 2019,” according to a news release from the city.
Prior to joining City Council, he served on Killeen Planning and Zoning Commission from 1996 to 2003.
“Mayor Jose Segarra has ordered the City of Killeen Flag to half-staff immediately in honor of Councilman Kilpatrick and his service. Flags will remain at half-staff until the day following interment. Funeral arrangements are pending,” according to the release.
Kilpatrick was in the final year of his third consecutive term.
Last week, Kilpatrick posted statement on Facebook, asking the public for prayers as he fought the coronavirus.
Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra said on Dec. 30 that Kilpatrick’s daughter, told him that Kilpatrick had initially been in the Intensive Care Unit but was later moved to the Critical Care Unit.
Kilpatrick’s wife of 37 years, Judy, died on Dec. 15 of heart failure, according to Kilpatrick’s Facebook page. The couple had five children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Kilpatrick was first elected to the council in May 2015, defeating incumbent Terry Clark for the Place 3 seat by 24 votes.
He won another tight race in 2017, defeating challenger Patsy Bracey by 50 votes.
He won re-election in a three-way race in 2019, taking 348 votes to Sandra Blankenship’s 299. Tolly James Jr. received 97 votes.
Kilpatrick served on the council as mayor pro tem from May 2017 to November of last year, when he was replaced by Shirley Fleming.
He was also president of the Killeen Economic Devleopment Corporation board of directors, serving as a council representative.
Kilpatrick was born and raised in Arkansas, the son of a lumber mill worker and grandson of a sharecropper on a cotton farm.
After spending 20 years in the Army, including service in Vietnam, Kilpatrick retired as a major in January 1986 from Fort Hood. He went to work for a local defense contractor and was involved in the changeover from Cobra helicopters to the AH-64 Apaches. He later became a Department of the Army civilian employee and retired for good with a total of 48 years combined military and government civil service.
Kilpatrick had a long record of service in the Killeen community.
Most recently, Kilpatrick served on the board of Killeen Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #2, the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce Central Texas and Board of Governors Central Texas-Fort Hood AUSA Chapter.
In the past two decades, he was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission (1996-2003); was co-chairman of the Killeen 2001 bond election committee; was chairman of the Killeen Transportation Committee (1999-2001) and served as Precinct 408 election judge (2010-2012).
In addition Kilpatrick served as president of the Killeen Kiwanis club, was a member of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, was a member of the Military Officers Association of America and Life Member of the Central Texas-Fort Hood AUSA chapter.
Kilpatrick was one of eight area veterans honored during a Congressional Veteran Commendation Ceremony in October.
He served 20 years in the Army after being drafted at the age of 19. He served two tours in Vietnam. Among his awards are the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, the third-highest combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the armed forces.
“It was my first tour in 1968-69,” Kilpatrick, told the Herald in November, while remember the actions that earned him the Silver Star. “I had been in-country less than two months at that time.
“I was a forward observer for an armored cav unit. I had just made first lieutenant in July, and in August the squadron went up against the 2nd NVA Division. We thought it was just a leading element of the division. The third platoon leader was wounded, and (they) looked over at me and said, ‘You’re now the platoon leader for third platoon. Get over there and take command.’
“We were still taking a lot of fire. We ran into an entrenchment line and they had us pinned down. We called for medivacs to come in, and me and another young man suppressed some fire from a couple of positions, then we got over to the tank where (the wounded platoon leader) was. He had lost his right arm, so we extracted him, and then we started getting mortar fire coming in.
“I grabbed him up on my shoulder in a fireman’s carry, and the other young man carried his arm. We took him over to where a helicopter was landing. That medivac pilot was taking fire like crazy, but he stayed there until we could get our wounded loaded.”
Kilpatrick was born and raised in Arkansas, the son of a lumber mill worker and grandson of a sharecropper on a cotton farm. The family that included nine children moved around a lot and it was not an easy life, but all the kids were raised with good, hard-working values and lots of love.
“When I was young, there was always one or two aunts and uncles who lived with us, also,” Kilpatrick said in November. “My mom was the oldest of ten kids, so there were always plenty of people around. She always said, ‘We may be poor in material things, but we’re rich in our values and our love and devotion for each other and for our Lord.’
“Then she’d tell us, ‘You are what you want to be, and you will be what you want to be in the future.’”
After spending a total of 20 years in the Army, Kilpatrick retired as a major in January 1986 from Fort Hood. He went to work for a local defense contractor and was involved in the changeover from Cobra helicopters to the AH-64 Apaches. He later became a Department of the Army civilian employee and retired for good with a total of 48 years combined military and government civil service.
Kilpatrick and his wife of 37 years, Judy, had five children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He said he tried to teach them many of the same lessons he learned as a kid.
“We learned the value of earning what you worked for. Your word is a reflection of who you are, and how you treat others is exactly how you were treated,” he said in November. “I think it helped us out greatly. It instilled into you a tremendous sense of, ‘You get what you work for.’
“There were no handouts. You didn’t have welfare. You grew what you could eat; you raised what you could on the farm. And you shared with everybody else.”
Kilpatrick said in November he has had to give up a few things he enjoyed in the past, like playing golf and working on cars, due to health issues, but he stayed busy with city council business and was also on the board of directors for AUSA (Association of the United States Army); the local Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce; and the Killeen Economic Development Corp.
“Wherever I’ve been — Fort Bragg, Fort Sill, Fort Benning, Fort Polk — I’ve always been involved with the municipal (government),” said Kilpatrick, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration. “I always volunteered when I could to serve on committees or other civic groups.
“I love to play golf, but I can’t play anymore — my legs won’t let me. I love racing, but I can’t work on cars anymore.
“All I want to do now is serve the people. It’s been a lot of fun.”