By Staff Sgt. Paula K. TaylorDecember 12, 2008
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. Aca,!" The U.S. Army Network Enterprise Command/9th Signal Command (Army) held a memorial and dedication ceremony in Greely Hall, Dec. 10, to honor 56 Soldiers and Civilians who gave their lives while supporting signal operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
"These warriors we honor today came from across our great nation," said Brig. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, commanding general, NETCOM/9th SC (A). "They are sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. They represent a broad range of nationalities and races, and each come from unique personal backgrounds. When called upon to answer the call to duty, they did not shy away, and for that, we honor them-today and every day after."
During the ceremony, four signal Soldiers were posthumously awarded the Signal Association's Gold Order of Mercury. Accepting the awards on their behalf were their Family Members, who were also given the Gold Wahatchee.
Named for Georgia patriot Nancy Hart, the Gold Wahatchee is a Signal Corps Regimental Association award that recognizes the spouse of Soldiers inducted into the Gold Order of Mercury.
One Soldier was posthumously awarded the Spirit of the Buffalo Soldier award, which recognizes individuals who embody the ideals of the Buffalo Soldiers of the United States Army: courage and perseverance.
Another fallen Soldier honored was posthumously awarded the Knowlton Award, which recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Intelligence in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipients, their superiors, subordinates, and peers. These individuals must also demonstrate the highest standards of integrity and moral character, display an outstanding degree of professional competence, and serve the Military Intelligence Corps with distinction.
After the memorial service, Family Members of the fallen were escorted upstairs for the grand opening and dedication of the Cove of Remembrance by NETCOM/9th SC (A) commanding general, Brig. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, and NETCOM's top noncommissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Donald G. Manley.
The Cove of Remembrance, which was the idea of Maj. Gen Carroll Pollett, former NETCOM commanding general, is located just inside the entrance of Greely Hall.
"The concept for the cove began more than two years ago," said Vincent Breslin, unit historian. "Major General Pollett's idea for a memorial wall first came about in early 2006; he asked for something more ambitious in mid-2006, so I designed the cove for his approval sometime around August of that year."
Inside the cove are several significant statues and national icons.
"I decided to include an American Flag, an American Eagle statue, and the Liberty Bell as three of the most recognized symbols of our national goals and principles," said Breslin. "Next, I asked a local artist to design a bronze Signal Torch with an eternal flame to honor our signal Soldiers and their particular mission. Meanwhile, another artist went to work designing individual ceramic tiles for each of these Soldiers bearing their photos and their personal information."
All of the tiles, totaling around 350, are mounted on a J-rail tracking system that allows the unit to remove and replace tiles as needed.
"Specialty tiles relate the Soldier's Creed, the NCO Creed, the Civilian Creed, and the Signal Soldier's Creed while others encase flyover certificates for the Pentagon, the South West Asia Area of Operation, our Fort Gordon regimental homefires, and our Fort Huachuca operational headquarters," Breslin explained. "All together there are some 350 tiles making up the primary and secondary Walls of Honor. Finally, I selected eight very large window graphics depicting the signal and joint missions our Soldiers participate in. I completed the full concept design in late 2006 and, with Major General Pollett's approval, initiated a long and laborious contract process."
Today, Breslin admitted, the Cove of Remembrance is the most satisfying project he's worked on for the Army and he is honored that he was asked to handle it.
The Cove of Remembrance will be open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Fridays, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Cove will be closed weekends and holidays.