Dedications preserve Armor heroes' legacy
April 5, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 3, 2013) -- Six members of the Cavalry lineage were memorialized forever Wednesday as the Soldiers of 5th Squadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment, gathered to dedicate the unit's headquarters and barracks facilities.
Great care was taken in choosing the names that would forever be emblazoned on these buildings, said Lt. Col. Andrew Koloski, squadron commander.
The goal was to select those individuals who best honor the Armor branch, he said -- "Soldiers who would connect with and inspire the future occupants of these brigades, young men taking their first steps on the transformation process from citizen to Soldier."
The six buildings are the final ones for the 194th Armored Brigade to dedicate, the culmination of a journey begun five years ago when Base Realignment and Closure brought the Armor School to Fort Benning.
"In February of 2008, the area where we stand right now was mostly still pine forest, secondary growth regrown from when the old World War II barracks were torn down in the early 1990s," Koloski said. "In a small ceremony that month, we celebrated the groundbreaking of a barracks complex that stands here now. This was one of the very first BRAC projects that was started here at Fort Benning, the first of nearly $3.5 billion of construction dedicated to creating a new home for the Armor School out here at Harmony Church."
The commander said he became a champion for the six men who were eventually chosen to be forever memorialized on the unit's dedication plaques.
Each one, he said, were American heroes.
"Hero -- that's a word that gets thrown out a little casually these days," Koloski said. "In this case, it's 100 percent appropriate. Webster's defines the hero as someone who in the face of danger and adversity displays courage, the will to self-sacrifice for some greater good. All of these Soldiers have done that. Dedicating these buildings in honor of troopers past does more than remember them. It serves as an example for all warriors who live and train here now, all soldiers and cadre who work here. It forever connects all of us with the Soldiers who came before us."
Named for Maj. Gen. John Wheelock, Wheelock Hall serves as the squadron headquarters. The World War II veteran was decorated four times for valor, spent three years testing and evaluating tanks for the Armor Board and served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Training Center, Infantry at Fort Polk, La.
"Not only does (this dedication) connect our current Soldiers to the history and lineage of Calvary and Armor, but it also connects the Armor School to its recent roots at Fort Knox, Kentucky," Koloski said, "where Wheelock Hall was also the squadron headquarters."
St. John Barracks
Maj. Gen. Adrian St. John is another Armor legend who traveled from Fort Knox to Fort Benning. Originally the namesake of the squadron motor pool, St. John is now the name for A Troop's barracks.
Serving in France, Germany, Korea, Iran and Vietnam, St. John became vice commander of the Joint Staff before his retirement in 1977.
Capt. Edward J. Hackett was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery Sept. 13, 1944. The captain crossed beyond Allied assault lines to aid a fallen comrade and was killed by enemy fire.
"He exemplified the Army values of selfless service and personal courage and the Warrior Ethos through his actions," said Capt. Kevin Bergman, squadron operations officer.
Hackett Barracks, for B Troop one-station unit training Soldiers, now bears his name.
David Poxon, one of a number of representatives of the Poxon family present for the ceremony, thanked the unit on behalf of his brother.
1st Lt. Robert Poxon attended seminary for one year before enlisting, but his brother said he loved the Army the most.
"He was actually happier in the Army because it was all about his platoon and his men … and how he could protect them," Poxon said.
Bergman said the lieutenant volunteered to go to Vietnam "so one less married man would have to go."
While aiding a wounded comrade, he was wounded himself but continued to push the attack until struck down by enemy fire.
"When asked about Vietnam and when asked about the war, he simply responded, it's all about the men … (getting) his platoon back all in one piece," said the younger Poxon. "And ultimately, when he died, he was doing just that."
F Troop's barracks are named for Sgt. Willie Estrada. During the Korean War, Estrada responded to an enemy attack with prompt machine gun fire. While engaged, the NCO was wounded but continued to man his post, returning fire.
"When one of the crew opened a hatch, the enemy hurled grenades through the opening," Bergman said. "Although his arm and shoulder had been shattered and he had received several chest wounds, Sgt. Estrada picked up the grenades as they fell into the tank and threw them out of the vehicle. With rare courage, he continued to stave off his attackers until he succumbed to his wounds."
For his actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Bradfield Barracks bear the name of Spc. Hoby Bradfield Jr. The Scout served with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq in 2005. During a dismounted patrol, his squad received heavy fire and a fellow Soldier was wounded. Bradfield crossed enemy fire to drag Sgt. Jeremy Wolfsteller to safety, saving his life.
"My brother is looking down right now with his spurs on and is gleaming with pride, I have no doubt about it," said Jared Bradfield, a retired Marine, referencing the honor of the dedication ceremony.
"Hoby was a special kind of Soldier," his brother said. "He came from a warrior class. When he deployed, he knew what we was doing. He knew that he may not come home, but his job while he was out there was to do the absolute best he could for each one of the men who were around him.
"I think it's incredibly important to preserve that history. And I think that's what we're doing here."
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