Division West pays tribute to nation's fallen heroes
May 20, 2013
FORT HOOD, Texas -- As part of a week-long focus remembering the fallen, Division West Soldiers stood in place of a sister division, laying a wreath at the 4th Infantry Division Memorial May 20.
Four years ago the proud colors of the Ivy Division were cased on Cameron Field as it moved from Fort Hood to Fort Carson, Colo., and Division West, First Army arrived at Hood to swap headquarters. Left on the grounds of Cameron Field was a memorial, dedicated and rededicated four times in honor of those who fell in battle under 4th Infantry's Task Force Iron Horse.
"This Memorial Day we express a profound gratitude for the acts of brave patriots who gave the full measure so that we can live free," said Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps, Jr., Division West commanding general.
Citing the responsibility the division has to remember all our nation's fallen, Phipps spoke of a particular responsibility to pay respects to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines memorialized on the division's own grounds -- the men and women honored on the 4th ID memorial.
"We stand before this beautiful monument today to lay a wreath of flowers as our act of respect and gracious reverence to the 432 Soldiers who served under the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq," said Phipps.
"In the center of this monument stands a statue of a kneeling Soldier before the boots, rifle, helmet and dog-tags of his fallen comrades," added Phipps. "With him stands a young girl, reaching out to touch the Soldier."
The division began its week-long focus with a run to remember May 17 here, with shadow runs occurring at the home of the division's other brigades at Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort McCoy, Wis., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
"Today we kick off with a Run to Remember," said Phipps, "I also want each of you to reach out to Families who have lost a loved one to war, because this is now 'our' Memorial Day."
Following a motivating division run, a select group of Soldiers gave their testimonials to some of their fallen comrades to a somber crowd of peers.
"I have the distinct privilege of, each day, leading America's sons and daughters. It also brings heartache knowing that the orders I give could lead to the loss of one of America's finest," said Capt. Orlando Craig, a 1st Battalion, 395th Engineer Regiment, 479th Field Artillery, Division West, observer/controller trainer team chief.
"These fears were realized on March 22, 2007, after ordering Sgt. Freeman Gardner to dismount his vehicle to provide security for some of his fellow Soldiers," Craig added. "He was killed by an IED blast in Baghdad, Iraq. Sgt. Gardner left many memories with me."
With our nation bringing an 11-year conflict to a close, Division West and her brigades will participate in various engagements around the command. Units will visit veteran's homes and participate in ceremonies at veteran cemeteries. Soldiers and leaders are taking the time to pay respects and homage to the fallen that paved the way for today's modern military.
"We know all those who have served in the past and have sacrificed. We know them through the history books," said Phipps. "Over the past 10 years, it has become so that it is no longer history books we refer to but our own memories, and now it is personal."