Redstone Pays Tribute to 'Unique Citizen Soldier'
April 24, 2008
In a solemn and patriotic ceremony that included a reading of Psalm 23 along with a last roll call, firing of volleys and performance of "Taps," Redstone Arsenal said farewell Thursday to one of its most highly regarded civilian Soldiers.
Described as a "dedicated member of the Redstone community" and a "unique citizen Soldier," Col. Stephen Scott was remembered by friends, co-workers and Soldiers during a memorial ceremony in Bob Jones Auditorium. Soldiers from the Army, Reserves and Alabama Army National Guard participated.
Honoring Scott as a "fallen brother in the Army and a friend," Col. John Wright of the Development and Engineering Command at the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center said he was "a DA civilian and military officer nearing retirement in both careers when he volunteered for a second tour in Iraq."
Scott, an avid runner who had plans to return to his home in New Market upon completion of his tour, was exercising on a treadmill when he was killed in the Green Zone in Baghdad on April 6 during a mortar attack on a U.S. military facility.
The 54-year-old Reserve Soldier and DoD civilian deployed to Iraq with the 356th Quartermaster Battalion of Laurel, Miss., and was working to train and equip the Iraqi army as a member of the Security Assistance Office in support of the Multi-National Security Transition Team. He is the ninth colonel and one of the highest ranking officers killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In an interview with national media in February, Scott described Iraqis and Iraqi soldiers as "brothers" anxious to embrace the U.S. Army's procedures, doctrine, training and leadership.
"I'm 100 percent behind what we're doing," Scott said in the interview. "They're on track. They're on schedule. Their hearts are in the right places. They're grooming and growing their own NCOs and officers and leaders to take charge - to take charge of Iraq. And I'm very pleased and excited about what the near-term future brings for this society ... They have embraced us and we embrace them both because we have a mutual interest, here, you know. And it is going way far better than I ever expected."
Scott began his 35-year military career when he enlisted in the Army in 1973. After two years of service, he joined the Reserves and began a civilian DoD career that included key roles in the early development of the Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, assisting with the establishment of a technology corridor that includes Redstone Arsenal, Fort Rucker and Eglin Air Force Base, and serving as program integrator in the AMRDEC's Advanced Science and Technology Directorate.
During his Reserve career, Scott led Soldiers at the detachment, company and battalion levels; attended the Quartermaster basic and advanced courses, Command and General Staff College, Psychological Operations Officer's Course and the Army War College, Defense Strategy Course; and earned the Army's Air Assault, Airborne and Pathfinder badges. He earned numerous awards and medals, including a Humanitarian Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Scott was also a supporter of wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and local wounded warrior programs.
Whether during his time as a Reserve officer or in his civilian career, Scott was always a "professional officer dedicated to Soldiers ... who was in his element whenever he could help his Soldiers," Wright said.
Scott always approached challenges with "that big old smile common to those who knew him," recalled fellow officer Lt. Col. Scott Reed.
Scott was often outspoken about getting the best training possible for his Soldiers. Reed recalled one training class when Scott rewarded his best students by helping them get into airborne school. When those students graduated, Scott jumped with them as their "wind dummy."
"He jumped first as a solo Soldier," Reed said. "He was used to gauge wind speed and drift to see the effect it would have on the other Soldiers. He was so proud of the Soldiers who graduated that day and so happy with what he was doing. He was an inspiration."
Reed and Scott were running buddies and friends.
"I shared every major event in life with him," Reed said. "I took comfort and wisdom from his words. I really valued Col. Scott's perspective. He had a gift of knowing the words to say in every situation. I guess that's why so many people called Col. Scott a friend."
Scott's life touched many others, said longtime friend Al Reed, who began his military and civilian careers with Scott in St. Louis 33 years ago, where they worked for the Aviation Systems Command. They both transferred to Redstone Arsenal during the BRAC move in 1997.
Serving in the Reserves and working as civilians gave both men "a balance," Al Reed said.
"We were able to take care of aviators on the civilian side and on the military side we took care of Soldiers," the retired warrant officer said.
"I lost track of the number of tours, the number of schools, the number of things he did all for the benefit of his service to the Army ... He was a man whose life had many faces. He had a passion for people. From the homeless guy downtown who needed counseling to the four-star generals in the Pentagon, he just clicked."
During his first tour in Iraq, Scott assisted with the establishment of Camp Victory. When he returned, he worked at the Pentagon for Joint Rapid Acquisition and then volunteered for a second tour.
"I retired three months ago from my civilian job," Al Reed said. "But, Col. Scott was back in Iraq. Then, God reached down and was ready to pull him in."
Al Reed, who just returned from Scott's funeral in St. Louis, said Scott's family is doing well and that the military honors he received have been a comfort to his sister Kathleen, brother Mark, daughters Rebekah and Rachel, and three grandchildren.
Patriot Guard Riders, and police and fire departments participated in the funeral procession.
"They blocked the interstate in St. Louis, which is unheard of and Steve would have just loved it," he said.
Another of Scott's longtime friends, Danny Gulledge, who attended the memorial ceremony, said Scott "led the way. We were all good, but Steve was better. And he'd tell everyone that freedom ain't free."
A memorial service for Scott is scheduled Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Flint River Baptist Church in Hazel Green.