Henry "Hank" Richard Bodson
November 15, 1917 – February 19, 2021
Henry (Hank) Richard Bodson, age 103, died peacefully, February 19, 2021, in Reston, VA. He epitomized the true American dream, developing his own “qualities and measures for success:” “To strive to sustain and improve self, family, society, country, nation and the world.”
Hank was born November 15, 1917, in Poland. His family immigrated to the United States when he was three years old. With hard work and strong motivation he received a nomination to the U. S. Military Academy and graduated in 1941. After the Field Artillery Basic Course, he was selected to join the Artillery of the 3rd Infantry Div. on the Anzio Beachhead in Italy. After the fall of Rome he was appointed commander of a 105 mm battery. While instructing soldiers how to employ artillery firepower in combat, he befriended and taught Audie Murphy (Medal of Honor recipient, most decorated WWII soldier, and “To Hell and Back” author) how to call in artillery. Hank was also an artillery battalion commander in Operation Dragoon, landing in Southern France, and was part of the 3rd Infantry Div. that captured Hitler’s Eagles Nest. He was awarded many honors to include the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Army Commendation Medal and the French “Chevalier” of the Legion of Honor.
He served in the U.S. Army 40 years: 28 in uniform - earning the rank of Colonel - and 12 for the Dept. of the Army. Convinced that field artillery would be linked to guided missiles, he was accepted as a student officer with the HERMES Project at the General Electric Co. He began a 12-year immersion in guided missiles: He commanded the 1st Guided Missile Battalion at White Sands Proving Grounds, NM; he headed up tests of the CORPORAL missile, then trained others. Next in Alaska, he conceived an original site design for the NIKE air defense system. He commanded the HONEST JOHN rocket battalion and the first LITTLE JOHN battalion. Other missile systems he helped develop include SERGEANT and PERSHING.
While at West Point, Hank met his beloved Belle on a blind date; they were married in July 1941 immediately after his graduation. Sadly, she preceded him in death from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” in 1984. His care of and devotion to her were unsurpassed. Hank became a primary founder of and contributor to the ALS Association-DC/MD/VA chapter. He also set up a scholarship in her name to prepare candidates for West Point.
Upon retirement, Hank enjoyed golfing, hiking and having time to spend with family. In time, he moved to Falcons Landing, a (predominantly military officers) retirement community in Potomac Falls, VA. There he met and enjoyed the company of June Kaulback, widow of a Navy fighter pilot. During the Army-Navy football game they smiled and declared, “Go Army” or “Go Navy” respectfully to each other. He was lauded at the age of 100 for “teaching the old people how to work out at the gym.” Friends knew him to be focused, determined and strong yet in a kind, gentle and caring manner.
He is survived by his daughter Elizabeth Lewis (John) and son Richard Bodson (Barbara); also by four grandchildren: Dawn McCarthy (Dave), Tyson Lewis (Stefanie), Elizabeth Bodson and James Bodson (Maddie); and four great-grandchildren: David and Henry McCarthy and Amelia and Reed Lewis. He was admired and respected and shall be greatly missed by all who had the honor to know him. He thought that his life and contributions to “Duty, Honor and Country” and to follow-on generations constituted “Mission Accomplished.”
Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery in the near future. In lieu of flowers, Hank’s suggestion was to consider donating to the ALS Association-DC/MD/VA Chapter, 30 West Gude Dr, Suite 150, Rockville, MD 20850. Contributions may also be made on-line: https://bit.ly/3ukDF3v.
11:00 am - 11:20 am
Old Post CHapel
11:30 am - 12:00 pm
Arlington National Cemetery
Henry "Hank" Richard Bodson
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March 4, 2021
Honored and blessed to be able to know such an amazing person! Sending my dearest condolences to his family!!
Bob & Brenda Rachner
February 27, 2021
We were so saddened to hear that your father passed away. What an amazing life! Wishing you peace and comfort during this difficult time and may the passing of time help you heal and bring you peace.
Love to all - Bob & Bren