Answering the call
Blooming Grove graduate heads back to Iraq
By Bob Belcher
Once a soldier, always a soldier — a saying that rings true for Richard Hinkle,
a member of the graduating class of
1960 at Blooming Grove High School.
Hinkle, now 64, is serving his second tour in Iraq as a special advisor to
General John Abazaid, the head of Central Command in Qutar, Iraq.
New Caney is home for Hinkle after “retiring” from government service in 1997,
but he answered the call to go to Iraq and serve his country again in an
advisory capacity. He still has family and friends in the Blooming Grove area,
and visits from time to time when he can.
Hinkle spent five years on active duty, another 20 in the reserves, retiring
from the Navy with the rank of Lt. Commander. Another career in government
service with the Department of Defense kept him busy after the military, until
duty called him back to the armed forces.
“Since the war is going, I’ve been called several times since they are short on
people,” Hinkle said, speaking with the Daily Sun from the Central Command
Headquarters in Iraq.
“I had the clearances and the background they needed for a special advisor, so
they called me. This is my second tour here,” Hinkle said.
A lot of the work Hinkle does is classified in nature, so he was unable to
comment on the specifics of his duties as a special advisor to the “CentCom”
commander, where he works with a bank of computers and telephones alongside
other military advisors keeping commanders updated on their findings.
“I think we’re making great progress here. They have a new government, it’s
slowly beginning to develop the police and forces necessary to run the country.
There are a lot of bumps along the way but the progress is so much better,”
Hinkle said of the U.S. involvement in Iraq.
“Our military is probably going to be here for a long time. They need us. We
can’t just go off and leave them. The life of the average Iraqi is a lot better
now,” Hinkle added. “It’s a small seed of democracy in an area where there is
“Most of the people I’ve met here, their morale is high. They feel like they are
a piece of history, that something is being accomplished,” Hinkle said.
On the personal side, Hinkle and his wife have two daughters; one is a lawyer,
another in human resources. Hinkle’s wife recently retired from the State
Department. One of Hinkle’s sisters shares their home in New Caney. Another
sister, Diane Richards, and sister-in-law, Jean Hinkle, both live in Blooming
Grove. He has a host of cousins in the area.
“I still follow the Corsicana Tigers and the Blooming Grove Lions on-line in the
Corsicana Daily Sun,” Hinkle added. “Even though I live in New Caney I still
consider Blooming Grove my home.”
“I’ve got a cemetery plot at Rose
Hill Cemetery in Blooming Grove. I’ll spend my eternity there,” Hinkle
Hinkle will return to Texas in September, and says “I’ll probably just spend
some time as a ‘gentleman farmer’ until they call me back.”