Fort Sill honors Gold Star families
March 27, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. (March 27, 2014) -- Megan Rehn was only 6 months old when her father, Sgt. 1st Class Randall Rehn, 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery, was killed April 3, 2003, in Iraq. Megan and her mother, Raelynn Rehn, often peruse photo albums together of their family.
"We look at all of the memories of him, not in a sad way, but in a remembering way," said Megan, now 11 and a fifth-grader. "She told me that he was very funny."
The Rehns made the three-hour drive from Broken Arrow, Okla., to attend Fort Sill's Gold Star Family Day March 22. About 260 family members from as far away as North Dakota and the East Coast came here for a day of activities to honor them and their fallen Soldiers.
The day's retreat ceremony was dedicated to the Gold Star families and their Soldiers.
"Our community will never forget your Soldiers nor your sacrifices," said Col. Tracy Banister, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill chief of staff, during retreat. "You are always welcome at Fort Sill."
Command Sgt. Maj. Dwight Morrisey, FCoE CSM, added: "We at Fort Sill are always going to be here for you. We want you to know that you don't have to go at it alone."
Gold Star families are those who have lost an immediate military family-member to combat. The day began with a private opening of the Hall of Remembrance at Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) in the Welcome Center.
The continuously updated hall is a display of 148 fallen Oklahoma- and Arkansas-based Soldiers, who have been killed in conflict since 2001, and fallen Soldiers who have next-of-kin residing in these two states, said Jodi Jordan, SOS [JUMP]support coordinator. Fort Sill will have a formal dedication of the hall May 16, however, it is now open for viewing.
One of the photographs in the hall is of Sgt. Mycal Prince, 28, an activated Oklahoma National Guard Soldier from Ninnekah, who was killed in September 2011, after serving only three months in Afghanistan.
Prince's survivor his wife, Surana Prince said she attended the day's activities to meet other Gold Star families.
"It's horrible that we're all connected by grief, but it's always good to be around people who understand what you're going through," she said.
Surana said it was good that Fort Sill created the Hall of Remembrance. She lives near Chickasha, and she frequently comes to Fort Sill for her and her two daughters medical appointments and for administrative services.
"If we ever need to remember our loved one or our Soldier we can always come here and have that to reflect on," said Surana, who is a student at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.
Raelynn said the hall is a way to keep the memory of Soldiers alive because you can share their stories.
"I had Megan look at each picture because they deserve that," she said.
The families were treated to lunch at the Blockhouse Dining Facility to show them one facet of Army life, Jordan said.
After lunch, the children and their families had the opportunity to participate in activities ranging from a scavenger hunt to climbing a rock wall to tackling an obstacle course to viewing static field and air defense artillery displays at the Teamwork Development Course (TDC) on the basic training side of post.
Each child was paired with a volunteer battle buddy, who took them through the various stations.
The volunteers came from the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Noncommissioned Officer Academy and 434th Field Artillery Brigade, Jordan said.
The TDC allowed families using each other as support a chance to symbolically overcome obstacles, said Christy Schrock, SOS financial counselor.
Surana said Gold Star Family Day was an awesome event.
"I think it's great that Survivor Outreach Services and Fort Sill has let us have some time with each other, and to remember our Soldiers because we don't ever want to forget them -- and we hope that the rest of the world won't forget them, either."