By Mr. Robert P Johnson (Leonard Wood)June 30, 2016
It took 25 years, but the veterans of Desert Storm were recognized with a stone reflecting that conflict during a ceremony in Memorial Grove Friday.
The monument, one of several marking the contributions of Soldiers in various conflicts supported by Army engineer, chemical and military police service members, is the latest addition to the grove.
"We were honored to provide a ceremony that reflected the respect we hold for our veterans who carried the torch during an era that brought our might in the Persian Gulf," said Lt. Col. Jacqueline Reini, 5th Engineer Battalion commander.
"The victory in 1991 was won and carried on the backs of great Americans who deserve nothing but the best we can deliver when we honor them," Reini said.
"It's therapeutic to see this marker," said Paul Duffy, retired Soldier and veteran of operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. "This is a start. For me personally, this is the part of the process to connect the three conflicts I was in… to understand how they fit together."
Lt. Gen. Daniel Schroeder, commander of Fort Leonard Wood in 1991, said nothing could describe what the Soldiers of the 5th Engineer Battalion did during the conflict nor the pride this community felt when the Soldiers moved out and went to war.
"Sending the Soldiers of the 5th Engineer off to war was something I never thought I would have to do, but they saluted and went. It's an honor to be part of this ceremony, preserving that part of our history," Schroeder said.
For many of the veterans in attendance, it was a chance to see old friends again and reflect on times more than a quarter century ago.
Patrick Mace, a former 5th Engineer Battalion Soldier, traveled from Wisconsin to be part of
"Some days, it (Desert Storm) seems like yesterday, and other times, you think that was part of another life. You ask yourself 'Did that really happen?'" Mace said.
Another veteran of the Fightin' Fifth who traveled some distance to attend was David Campbell, a former Soldier in Company B and now retired in West Virginia.
"This means a lot," Campbell said. "I knew I wanted to be here when they recognized us 5th Engineer Gulf War veterans, and I hadn't been on (Fort Leonard Wood) for 24 years. Back then, I was on orders for Korea, but volunteered to go with the 24th Infantry Division. Later, in
country (Saudi Arabia), I got assigned back to the 5th."
Following remarks and the history behind Desert Storm by Brig. Gen. James Raymer, U.S. Army Engineer School commandant, the marker was unveiled by Raymer, Schroeder and Master Sgt. (retired) Bruce Harmon to the more than 100 veterans, Soldiers, civilians and Family members in
"Several organizations came together to make today's event memorable for all those who served during Desert Shield and Desert Storm," Reini said.
A salute volley and the playing of Taps, followed by a benediction and singing of the Army Song brought the ceremony to a close.