After finishing high school, Becton entered a segregated Army at age eighteen and over nearly forty years rose to the rank of lieutenant general. Two years after enlisting in the Army Air Corps Enlisted Reserve, he was commissioned a second lieutenant of infantry and subsequently fought with distinction in the Korean War. Integrated into the Regular Army in 1951, he went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics and economics and held combat commands in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He commanded the legendary 1st Cavalry Division in 1975-76. Promoted to lieutenant general in 1978, he served as commanding general of the U.S. VII Corps in Germany and deputy commander of Training and Doctrine Command and the Army Inspector of Training before retiring in 1983.
Following retirement he entered fields of international disaster assistance, emergency management, and education. Becton joined the Reagan administration in 1984 as Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for the Agency for International Development. From 1985 to 1989 he was Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Over the next six years, he was the COO of American Coastal Industries and president of Prairie View A&M University. His final civilian post was as CEO/Superintendent of public schools in the District of Columbia.
Becton was listed several times by Ebony magazine as 'One of the 100 Most Influential Blacks in America.' In 2007 he was selected to receive the George Catlett Marshall Medal, the highest award presented by the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) for being a 'soldier, combat commander, administrator, educator, public servant, government leader, and role model.'