Phillip Hamilton Riley, 85, of Kempner, Texas passed away on December 18, 2020, in Kempner. Interment will follow a brief ceremony at the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery of Killeen at 1:00 pm on Friday, March 5, 2021. Arrangements are by the Viss Family Funeral Home.
Phillip was born in Victor, Colorado to John and Edna Riley in 1935. After his first marriage to Dolores Bradshaw that gave him his son Tim, Phillip married Anne Nicholson in 1966. Phil grew up in San Diego and graduated from Point Loma High School in 1953 (Go Pointers!). He worked as a seaman and pilot for the Star & Crescent Boat Co. in the San Diego bay area and attended San Diego State College, now known as San Diego State University (Go Aztecs!) before being drafted into the Army in February of 1958. Here’s an early indicator of the trajectory of his military career: a certain PFC Phillip H. Riley earned the Fort MacArthur Soldier of the Month Certificate in June 1959. In 1960, Phillip attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia and was commissioned as an Infantry 2nd Lieutenant.
While in the U.S. Army, Phillip served in Korea and was a veteran of the Vietnam War, commanding several infantry companies before being stationed at Fort Hood in the early 1970’s. After retiring from 20 years in the Army at the rank of Major, Phillip worked in Civil Service for 30 years, retiring as a Senior Military Test Plan Analyst in 2010 at age 75. His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Campaign and Service Medals, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and Expert Infantryman Badge. His civilian awards and decorations include the Meritorious Civilian Service Award, Superior Civilian Service Award, Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, and Achievement Medal for Civilian Service. He was inducted into the U.S. Army Operational Tester’s Hall of Fame on October 1, 2015 as the 36th member.
Phil was a lifelong learner, with a passion for astronomy, science, natural history, military history, and more. He was a generous source of information as well as gentle mentoring and encouragement on any and all topics – work-related, science-related, career or life challenges.
He was a dedicated sports enthusiast, following most sports, especially football, favoring any University of Texas Longhorns sports team, the Dallas Cowboys, and generally any Texas football teams. He was always hoping for a good, competitive game, regardless of the sport or teams involved. He enjoyed some amazing vacations in retirement, including a 95 day around-the-world cruise in 2016 on the Pacific Princess (The Love Boat!), a visit to the home of his niece Beth Riley in Oregon to see the total eclipse of August 21, 2017, and a 2015 trip to Kiruna, Sweden to see the Northern Lights in person.
Phil volunteered with organizations he strongly supported: Several years at a Boy Scout camp to teach astronomy to the scouts, and the Wreaths for Veterans during the Christmas holiday season. He also volunteered at the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery in Killeen and received an Outstanding Volunteer award.
In honor of his love of astronomy, a friend gave Phillip a gift from the International Star Registry. On a clear night, you can find the star formerly known as Ursa Major RA11h52m6.58s D61° 15’6.92” and give greetings to Phil Riley. His quick smile, cheerful attitude, and perky “Howdy! Howdy!” greeting – these will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Phillip is preceded in death by his beloved wife Anne and son Tim, his parents, and brother W. Ray Riley. He is survived by his sister Suzanne Raby, his brother Jack (who has subsequently passed), numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and nephews, special family friends and neighbors Emily Smith, Brigitte McNeely and Keith Wright, Claudette and Ray Gibson and extended family, and countless former colleagues and friends from the U.S. Army Operational Testing Command (OTC).
The family of Phillip Riley wishes to extend our sincere thanks to Sheri Brann and Cindy Judge of Amada Senior Care, and the staff of Heart of Texas Hospice for their help fulfilling Phillip’s wish to live out his final days independently in his own home.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Phillip’s honor to the United Way of Greater Fort Hood Area or the Texas Humane Heroes animal shelter.
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