By U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs
WEST FORT HOOD (Now designated Fort Cavazos), Texas — A Central Texas resident has been selected as the 2019 inductee to the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Operational Testers’ Hall of Fame.
William Ralph (Bill) Fesler of Lampasas, Texas, has been named the 41st HOF inductee and will be honored in ceremonies to take place Oct. 1, which coincides with OTC’s 50th birthday commemorating its role in testing all new and modernized Army and joint-service equipment systems.
Bill will celebrate his 76th birthday Sept. 23, and is a native of Amarillo, Texas.
After graduating Dumas High School in Dumas, Texas in 1962, he enlisted into the Army in September the same year, spanning an Army career of 29 years until he retired as a lieutenant colonel October 1, 1991.
His second retirement came as Acting Director of OTC’s Logistics Directorate in June 2013 with 21 years as an Army Civilian employee.
His Army career saw him as a Logistics, Airborne, and as a Parachute Rigger in charge of a Parachute Shop in Binh Thi (Cholon), Vietnam, he was responsible for maintaining, repairing and supplying parachutes for all light Army aircraft in Vietnam.
After Vietnam, he became a parachute rigging instructor at Fort Lee, Virginia in 1967.
He took a turn into the Army officer ranks when he attended Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, graduating during October 1969.
The “Old Soldier” next set his sights on becoming an Army Aviator, attending his first Officer Rotary Wing Flight School at Fort Walters, Texas and advanced and flight instrument training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, graduating in September 1971 and flying OH-58 Scout helicopters.
He went back to Vietnam in January 1972, serving in two different aviation units.
He achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1985 and was assigned to Bremerhaven, Germany where he served as the Director of Logistics (DOL) for the 543rd Area Support Group there.
His civilian service at OTC started only seven days after retiring from the Army, when he became the Logistics Officer for the Command, Control, and Communications Test Directorate (C3TD).
During his 21 years at OTC, Bill served in several directorates to include C3TD, the Aviation Test Directorate (AVTD), Operations, and Logistics. He was Test Officer on a number of systems to include Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS), Vehicle Intercommunications System (VIS), Command and Control Vehicle (C2V), Aviation Mission Planning System (AMPS), CH47-D Chinook Helicopter, and several other systems including airborne jamming for Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) and EPLRS.
He served in several capacities within OTC Logistics as Test Support Officer, Division Chief, Deputy Director and as acting Director.
The Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in October 1994, has served to honor Soldiers and Civilians for their commitment to putting the best possible equipment and systems into the hands of Soldiers in both training and combat conditions.
About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:
Operational testing began Oct. 1, 1969, and as the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC is celebrating “50 Years of Operational Testing.” The unit enlists the “Total Army” (Active, National Guard, and Reserve) when testing Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer – the American Soldier.