Gen. Gene Perry Hale dies at 66

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 20, 2004

[5/16/04]Retired U.S. Army Major Gen. Gene Perry Hale died Saturday, May 15, 2004, at his home in Vicksburg. He was 66.

“He was always a competent and dedicated worker,” said Don C. Banks, who worked with Gen. Hale at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station for 30 years. “He had high integrity and was completely trustworthy. He was a leader in all endeavors he attempted,” Banks said.

Gen. Hale was a Vicksburg native and a 1956 graduate of St. Aloysius High School. He received his civil engineering degree from the University of Mississippi.

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He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Mississippi Army National Guard in 1959. After completing the Engineer Officers’ Basic Course in Fort Belvoir, Va., he returned to the MSARNG and served as platoon leader, construction engineer and company commander for Company B of the 114th Engineer Battalion, as company commander for the 157th Engineer Company, 273rd Engineer Battalion. His later assignments included motor officer, 273rd Engineer Battalion, and assistant engineer officer, engineer officer and assistant S3 of the 168th Engineer Group.

In U.S. Army Reserve status he served as military intelligence officer, 475th Military Intelligence Detachment, and as construction engineer, military intelligence staff officer, topographic staff officer, assistant chief of staff, personnel, chief of staff and deputy commander of the 412th Engineer Command. He was appointed commander of the 412th Engineer Command in May 1991 and promoted to major general in November 1991.

Gen. Hale worked at the U.S. Army Engineers Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg as supervisory civil engineer-chief of the Soils Research Center in the Soil and Rock Mechanics Division of the Geotechnical Laboratory. He retired in 1994 after nearly 35 years and received the Distinguished Service Medal, one of the highest medals awarded during peace time.

Gen. Hale was a member of St. Paul Catholic Church and the Port City Kiwanis Club, where member Charles Riles remembers him as a gentle man always willing to help.

“He was always very kind and helpful,” Riles said. “He had the rank of general but was a friend to everybody. He was just an all-around good fellow.”

Gen. Hale was preceded in death by his father, T.A. Hale.

He is survived by his wife, Ann W. Hale of Vicksburg; two daughters, Melanie Ann Phillips and Tracie Hale Smith, both of Vicksburg; his mother, Nellie Hale of Vicksburg; one grandson, Austin Hale Phillips of Vicksburg; one sister, Judy McCollum of Vicksburg; and one brother, Darryl Hale of Vicksburg.

A funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Paul Catholic Church with the Revs. Patrick Farrell and Charles Boykins officiating. Burial will follow at Green Acres Memorial Park with full military honors.

Visitation will be from 5 until 8 p.m. Monday at Riles Funeral Home with a wake service at 8 p.m.

Honorary pallbearers will be Travis T. Vance Jr., retired Army Maj. Gen. William Hobgood, retired Army Maj. Gen. Richard Coleman, Col. David Weeks, retired Army Col. Newell Murphy, Robert P. Smith, Dr. Randy Easterling, Don C. Banks, Dave Hammer, Charles Calhoun, Dr. William T. Causey, William Brabston, Carter Buford, Vernon Martin, members of Buck Wilds Playhouse and members of the Port City Kiwanis Club.