ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Beneath a clear blue sky, friends, relations, coworkers and military leaders gathered in solemn remembrance of two U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center workers who lost their lives in the service of their country.

During the May 21 ceremony, ATC's H-Field firing range in the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground was dedicated to Mark A. Henry and the range test operations center was dedicated to Joseph E. Gray, a year after they suffered fatal injuries in an explosion while test firing a T-55 Soviet tank.

The program included remarks by Col. Jeffrey P. Holt, ATC commander, and Dr. James Streilein, executive director of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, ATC's higher headquarters.

Holt said the ceremony culminated several weeks of hard work by the men and women of the ATC Team and the APG Garrison.

"It is our sincere hope that today's ceremony will provide at least some small comfort to the families and friends still grieving the loss of two remarkable men," he said.

Streilein said that data provided by ATC test ranges is "truly important to the Army" and that the mission would not be accomplished without the partnership of military, civilians and contractors.

"Through the years, through the dedication of the people of ATC and other places, we have the best Army in the world," he said.

"It is important that everybody is committed to that work, [and we] do appreciate the contributions and sacrifices."

Honored guests of the program included Henry's wife, Trudy Henry, his parents Donald and Agnes Henry, sons Christopher, Cody and Curtis, and daughter-in-law Nancy Henry.

Gray family members included his wife Christina Gray, his parents Robert and Paulette, and sons Austin and Hunter.

Also, Douglas S. Mauzy, the lone survivor of the accident, attended with his wife, Linda.

The U.S. Army Materiel Command Band provided the program's music and the Maryland National Guard's 29th Aviation Brigade, the unit in which Gray served for 11 years, provided the color guard.

In addition, 29th Aviation provided a Blackhawk helicopter flyover.

During the ceremony, Gray was posthumously awarded the Department of the Army Meritorious Service Medal, signed by Brig. Gen. Alberto J. Jimenez, Adjutant General of the Maryland National Guard, and a Certificate of Meritorious Service from Jacobs Engineering, his employer.

Henry was posthumously awarded the Department of the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service signed by John McHugh, Secretary of the Army.

The high point of the dedication was the unveiling of the granite memorial to Gray, Henry and Mauzy. The memorial sits at the entrance to the operations facility. It reads: "In memory of Mark Alan Henry and Joseph Edward Gray who gave their lives in the line of duty, and in recognition of Douglas Scott Mauzy for his sacrifice in support of the ATC mission."

After reading the inscription, Christina Gray, Trudy Henry and Mauzy hugged in front of the memorial for several tender moments.

In closing, Holt said he hoped the day would bring some measure of comfort to Trudy Henry and Christina Gray and to the friends and family of Doug and Linda Mauzy as he continues his recovery.

He said he hoped the parents received a glimpse into the world where their sons worked each day, adding that they were, "no longer the children you raised, but instead the respected men they became, each committed to serving our nation and its Soldiers."

To the Henry children, Holt said he prayed the day would provide, "a symbolic beacon by which to help guide your lives," and to young Austin and Hunter Gray, he added his wish that they return to H-Field and walk the grounds with their mother, "to better know the father, taken far too early from your lives."

Mauzy has undergone more than 20 surgical procedures since the accident, including skin grafts to his face and hands. He said he expects a long recovery and he expressed thanks to his family, friends and coworkers. Noting that his brother, who also works on the test site, could have been in his place that day, Mauzy said he never asks "why me." He said he has formed a bond with the families of his lost coworkers that will last a lifetime.

"They lost more than I lost," he said.

Christina Gray said she was "overwhelmed" by the support she's received in the past year and was at a loss for words about the dedication.

"It's been an amazing and absolutely beautiful day," she said. "There are no other words for this."

Trudy Henry added thanks to Holt and the ATC Team.

"They have been most helpful and supportive," she said. "This [dedication] was more than we could ever imagine."

Aberdeen Proving Ground leaders in attendance included Brig. Gen. Harold Green, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; Gary Martin, RDECOM technical director; John Wallace, ATC technical director; Col. Orlando W. Ortiz, APG Garrison and deputy installation commander; APG Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney J. Rhoades; Brian Simmons, ATEC technical director; Col. Timothy Gowen, former commander of the 29th Aviation Brigade; James Johnson, former director, U.S. Army Developmental Test Command; and Susan Bilhorn, senior vice-president of Jacobs Engineering Corporation.

Representatives of Maryland U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin, U.S. representatives C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Frank Kratovil, and Harford County Executive David R. Craig, also attended.

The cause of the May 2009 accident has not been identified. The U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala. is leading the investigation.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16