Sustainment Memorial Serves As Lasting Tribute
March 16, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. -- A memorial honoring sustainment Soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice supporting operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, was presented to the Combined Arms Support Command in a ceremony March 15 at the Army Logistics University.
The cast bronze memorial was presented by the 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) to serve as a lasting reminder of selfless service and dedication to duty for all those who attend educational training programs at the university.
The memorial may be simple in design but it is significant in purpose, said Brig. Gen. Don S. Cornett Jr., 310th ESC commanding general. It was created in 2003 by the 3rd Corps Support Command during Operation Iraqi Freedom to honor fallen sustainment Soldiers. Since that time, a total of 10 COSCOMs/ESCs have maintained the memorial while they served in Balad, Iraq.
The design includes several components such as the sculpture of a helmet, rifle and combat boots, which sits on top of a tiered wood base. A cased American flag and plaque are at the front of the memorial, and 199 carefully hung identification tags are draped across the rifle. Each component of the memorial has a meaning - the helmet and identification tags signify the fallen Soldier. The inverted rifle with bayonet signals a time for prayer and a break in the action to pay tribute to the dead. And, the combat boots represent the final march of the last battle.
"This memorial was erected and designed to enshrine the warfighting spirit that is embodied in all our Soldiers, and to ensure it endures into the future," said Col. Stephen E. Farmen, Chief of Transportation and commandant of the U.S. Army Transportation School. Farmen spoke at the ceremony as many of the fallen warriors were Transportation Corps Soldiers "running convoys outside the wire and connecting the distribution fight."
During the ceremony, a video tribute honoring all the warriors on the memorial played in the background. It showcased a photo and information about each Soldier.
Cornett said it was important to remember that the names only represent fallen logisticians in COSCOMs/ESCs in theater and "each one of these Soldiers is a great American."
As the 310th ESC was the last one in theater, how to ensure the memorial remained a lasting tribute became a critical mission. "It seemed like the right thing to do was to make it an ongoing and continuous memorial," he said, as he expressed happiness at having it displayed in a permanent exhibit at the university where all sustainment leaders -- noncommissioned officers, officers and warrant officers -- engage in training and leader development courses.
Its journey to Fort Lee began months ago as it traveled from Balad, through Kuwait and Germany, en route to Dover, Del. Once at Dover, Fort Lee personnel transported it to its temporary housing area in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum, where it remained on display until it could be moved to its permanent home at the university.
In speaking about the movement of the memorial, Farmen said its journey was "a true indicator of the level of commitment of our entire Army team. It preserves our ability to pay tribute to our heroes, respect our lineage and history, and never forget the price of freedom that defines our nation."
Farmen accepted the memorial on behalf of all sustainment Soldiers. "As members of our sustainment community pass by this memorial -- it will serve as a pertinent reminder of the steadfast commitment we have in our hearts to never forget our fallen Soldiers; and the bravery it takes to walk undaunted into harms way.
"We pay tribute to them, by immortalizing their spirits, and those of their fellow logistics warriors, who forged into harms way with them…from that fateful day on 9-11 to now, and beyond," Farmen said. "It is essential that we use this moment, and this memorial, to draw strength and inspiration from the courage and selflessness of those that came before us, and continue to find the will, strength of character, and purpose to persevere and fight on until the mission is done."