A city rejuvenated, heroes honored
May 28, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Several months ago, Chief Darwin Armitage, Roy, Wash. chief of police, was disappointed that the town was unable to participate in "Make a Difference Day" because of weather and other contributing factors. He thought the town could take a day to honor those who had given so much and asked for so little.
The idea was to take a day to beautify the city, starting with the Roy City Park and city hall. At the end of the day the town would recognize fallen heroes.
"What a wonderful opportunity for us to set up a memorial for a few people who have sacrificed their lives for our community and nation," Armitage said.
This thought quickly became reality and the Roy Hometown Heroes Project was born. Armitage contacted Roy's community partner, the 555th Engineer Brigade, commonly known as the Triple Nickel, and a local Home Depot to see if they would like to assist in this project. Home Depot supplied the materials and lawn care specialists, while the Triple Nickel provided the manpower.
The Triple Nickel had 33 soldiers, to include family members, volunteer for this event. Sgt. 1st Class Antoin Moultrie, the liaison between the brigade and their community partner, attends the city council meetings bi-weekly and that is when they came to him with the idea.
"We offered manpower and equipment, but they said all they needed was muscle and an appetite," said Moultrie, "So that's what we gave them."
On the morning of May 4, the group began what Armitage referred to as a rejuvenation project. He wanted the group to plant flowers in plant boxes constructed for the park, pour cement to make the park accessible for people in wheelchairs and clean up around the city hall.
Armitage received more than he asked for. They started at 9 a.m., and within an hour they finished most of the initial projects.
"I know you can't expect the military to move slowly but I was hoping it would take them longer than what it did," he said.
Not stopping there, the volunteers took the initiative to clean up other areas of Roy, like the cemetery and next to railroad tracks.
As soldiers and local Cub Scouts were cleaning up the cemetery they took the opportunity to explore it. Moultrie said he was amazed at the number of veterans buried there that date back to the Civil War.
The group of volunteers finished around noon and Armitage and his crew treated everyone to a barbecue in the park. They served pulled pork, brisket, and chicken, but this is not what the volunteers came for.
At approximately 4 p.m., the volunteers, Triple Nickel leadership and community members all came together at the town hall to unveil the Hometown Heroes wall. This was the defining point of the day and the town honored two fallen heroes, Staff Sgt. Alexander Povalitis and Deputy Kent Mundell.
Povalitis died in action nearly one year ago by an improvised explosive device while deployed to Afghanistan. Mundell died while responding to a domestic violence call in December of 2009.
"At the end of the day it's all about the wall and honoring those who have sacrificed their lives," Armitage said passionately.
The families of the victims were on hand for the unveiling. Povalitis' wife Kim became emotional when she saw the picture of her fallen husband on the wall.
"It fills my heart up to see this," she said with tears in her eyes, "It's one thing to see his picture all over my house but to see it somewhere else is amazing."