Army Honors Children of Fallen
October 29, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 29, 2007) - The Army honored the children of fallen-hero Chief Warrant Officer 4 John W. Engeman today, in a ceremony split between the Pentagon and Baghdad that was a time of tears, laughter and above all, pride.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. presented the Gold Medal of Remembrance to CW4 Engeman's daughter Nicole Engeman at the Pentagon while at the same time via video teleconference Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps-Iraq, presented the medal to 1st Lt. Patrick Engeman, a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division, in Baghdad.
Sponsored by the White House Commission on Remembrance, the Gold Medal of Remembrance was created in 2006 to honor children who have lost a mother or father during operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. According to Carmella LaSpada, the commission's director, the medal is the first of its kind to recognize children for their sacrifices in war.
"We're a nation of symbols," she said. "We came up with something they could have the rest of their lives, and every time that they would hold this and see this, they would know that there is a grateful nation who recognizes the sacrifices of their fathers."
Gen. Casey said the first remembrance ceremony he attended on Memorial Day was "heart wrenching." The service chiefs were supposed to present the medals and leave, but he said they couldn't do that. They ended up going forward and embracing the children, who ranged from a few months old to their 20s.
Having lost his own father in Vietnam, Gen. Casey said he was especially sympathetic to the sacrifices of these Families, but he urged them to remember the important work their loved ones completed in Iraq and Afghanistan, against an enemy who wants to destroy the American way of life. He said that without men and women like CW4 Engeman, who worked on a transition team training Iraqi security forces, security in Iraq would not be possible.
CW4 Engeman was serving as part of an embedded special transition team to train and advise Iraqi security forces while assigned to the 1/312th Battalion, 30th Enhanced Separate Brigade. He was killed May 14, 2006, when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
"I think it says a lot about his dad that Patrick chose to be in the Army too," said Lt. Gen. Odierno. "I think that says a lot about his leadership. I appreciate the great job he's done since he's been here as a platoon leader carrying on the tradition. We're very proud of him over here and I know he's living up to his dad's expectations."
Wearing a gold star pin and carrying her husband's hat, Donna Engeman, CW4 Engeman's wife of over 23 years, said her husband commissioned her son in the proudest moment in both of their lives, and that although sending him to the place his father died was difficult, she was proud of both of their commitment and duty.
The ceremony, she added, was comforting and important in the process of moving forward.
"I think this is a great thing and I am so pleased and so happy, grateful, to the Army for doing this for us," she said. "One of the things that you worry about as a widow, is, 'I'm going to lose my Army Family.' John was in the military for 28 years. In a sense, we have no other Family. And the thought of losing that was so frightening. The dynamics of the relationship have changed a little bit, but things like this, remind me that my Army Family is still here, and I'm grateful for that."
See related article about a Gold Medal Remembrance ceremony on Capital Hill at <a href="http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx'id=47992">http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx'id=47992</a>.