WWII vets rededicate 95th Training Division memorial at Fort Sill
April 17, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. (April 17, 2014) -- The rededication of the 95th Training Division (Initial Entry Training) Memorial was held April 11 at the Armed Forces Reserve Center on Fort Sill.
The memorial was originally located in Oklahoma City and was disassembled in 2011 when the division headquarters moved to Fort Sill. Veterans of the division who fought in World War II attended and took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The memorial, located in the same building as the training division's headquarters, is dedicated to the history of the division and the memory of Soldiers who died while serving. Among its artifacts are memorabilia, uniforms and equipment from WWII to present-day operations. Veterans and their families have also donated photographs, personal mementos and other effects.
"[Today] we rededicate the 95th Division Memorial in honor of your contributions to the freedom and liberty of our nation and in the memory of the Victory Division Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice," said Brig. Gen. Daniel Christian, training division commander, at the ceremony.
After the division's relocation to Fort Sill in 2011, its public affairs officer, Maj. Jennifer Mack, began the task of moving the memorial to the new headquarters location, completing the memorial just hours before the rededication ceremony.
Retired Maj. Gen. Douglas Dollar, 95th Division Foundation president and former 95th commander, presented Mack with the newly created 95th Division Foundation Jennifer K. Mack Outstanding Volunteer Award in recognition of her dedication and efforts in successfully relocating the memorial from Oklahoma City.
Mack thanked members of the foundation and fellow Soldiers for their help and support. She thanked her daughter for the many evenings and weekends spent alongside her, working on the memorial walls and displays.
"The memorial was created in 1993 to honor the fallen comrades of the Iron Men of Metz. We have updated it to recognize the contributions of division Soldiers past and present, and I hope that it will be a source of pride for all who have selflessly served the 95th," she said.
After the ribbon cutting ceremony, WWII veterans led a tour of the memorial. These vets distinguished themselves in battle and earned the division its nickname of the Iron Men of Metz.
Charles "Red" Whittington was one such iron man who toured the memorial. He was a squad leader in the 377th Infantry Regiment.
"We trained in California, Louisiana and West Virginia in preparation for the war. We trained for almost two years, and I think we were one of the best-trained outfits in the Army. But on the first night attack we lost 93 men," said Whittington.
Paul Madden, a private first class in A Company, 379th Infantry Regiment, said the memorial is about honoring the memory of those who died. Madden has been part of the division association since 1946 when an article in a Shreveport, La., newspaper invited veterans of the 95th Division to join an association to honor and remember their fallen comrades.
The rededication was attended by veterans and their families from near and far. Anthony Duno, an infantryman in the 95th Division during WWII, is now a logistician at an Army post in Germany. He said the trip was long and tiring, but he looks forward to the annual reunions. He was glad to visit the rededicated memorial with his daughters and pass the history to them.
The WWII veterans who attended the rededication ceremony, like retired Col. John Komp, see the relocation of the memorial as way to honor all that have served in the 95th Division, not only the original Iron Men. Komp said the rededication ceremony marks the passing of the torch to Soldiers currently serving.