Lee dedicates tree to honor most senior fallen military member of Afghan war
June 21, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (June 21, 2012) -- Fort Lee honored a fallen Quartermaster Soldier here June 14 at a tree dedication ceremony near the 1st Logistics Memorial along Lee Avenue.
About 100 guests -- including surviving Family members and high-ranking Army leaders from other installations -- attended the Brig. Gen. Terence J. Hildner tribute. He died in February from natural causes while serving in Afghanistan as the commander of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) out of Fort Hood, Texas.
During the ceremony, a stone monument was unveiled near a newly planted dogwood tree. Hildner's wife, Cindy, and son, Jonathan, participated in the ceremony along with Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, U.S. Army Quartermaster General, and Command Sgt. Maj. James K. Sims, regimental CSM for the corps.
"Brigadier General Hildner was truly a war-fighter logistician and sustainer," Bingham said during her remarks at the event. "He was renowned for his belief in the importance of realistic and comprehensive training."
Highlights of Hildner's 28-year Army career include stints as the 23rd QM Brigade commander here and the G-3, director of training and doctrine at the Combined Arms Support Command headquarters. According to Bingham, he established the Sustainment Warrior Field Training Exercise that still serves today as one of the "premier training events" for Soldiers and future leaders completing Quartermaster advanced individual training and officer development courses at Fort Lee.
"When you reflect upon his 28-year career, the remarkable service to the nation, you understand that Terry was a giant of a man with a kind soul -- one who truly cared about all he came in contact with," Bingham said. "He was a leader of Soldiers and civilians, and he loved being a Soldier, a leader and a statesman.
"Terry's time between his birth and his passing was filled with amazing things," she continued. "He lived his life to the fullest, and he loved being a Soldier and a leader in this Army. We all could do well by emulating his love for life and his love for Soldiering."
Hildner "set the example" of what it means to serve one's nation, according to Bingham. "I believe we can best honor Terry through our love of country, our love of each other and our sense of duty while we strive to be the best officers, noncommissioned officers, warriors or civilians that we can possibly be.
Bingham concluded with a comparison of Hildner to the tree that was planted in his honor. Like the roots of a tree that provide the plant the nourishment it needs to grow to become strong and survive, he became one of the quartermaster and Army roots. And, just like the branches and leaves of a tree that provide protection and comfort to many living things, regardless of the circumstances, she said Hildner had the natural ability to do the same.
"It is my distinct honor and privilege, on behalf of the men and women of the logistics and sustainment communities everywhere, to be able to dedicate this tree to this Soldier and leader extraordinaire," Bingham summarized. "And though he is not with us here today, let there be no doubt that his spirit is with us here always."
As the ceremony concluded, many of the guests took a moment to stand in front of the memorial and pay their respects. Some placed organizational coins at the base of the stone pillar. A few -- like fellow officer Brig. Gen. Edward Burley, commanding general of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, Fort Meade, Md. -- closed their eyes in reverence as they placed their hand on the monument's bronze plaque that bears Hildner's image and the words, "Honoring the spirit and leadership of a great Soldier, father, husband and friend."