By Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, 3rd Infantry DivisionJuly 25, 2018
As a young Sergeant in 3rd Infantry Division I was mostly unaware of the history that surrounded us every day. Outside of singing the "Dogface Soldier" every morning (poorly I might add) and learning about Audie Murphy (5'6" and 110 pounds), it was oblivious to most of us. We were more concerned with how to get to Savannah and back for a night on River Street.
Since my return to 3rd ID, and the Division Headquarters' return from Afghanistan in May, I have had the opportunity (and honor) to gain a greater appreciation of the 3rd ID history and the Soldiers who have left a lasting legacy upon it. It has truly been humbling to understand the sacrifice that so many Soldiers and Families have endured over the last century. Those roots are the very foundation of this Division and are as true today as they were when the Division first stood up to answer the nation's call in WWI.
In the last three months I have also come to realize that we truly walk in the Shadows of Heroes.
Why the realization? I have several reasons.
I got to experience the battlefields of WWI in France with 30 of our best Dogface Soldiers, and walked the cemeteries of the Somme, Meuse-Argonne, and monument at Chateau-Thierry.
We climbed the hillside in the Champagne region of France near a little town called Moulin, where the 30th and 38th Infantry Regiments of the newly formed 3rd ID held fast along the Marne River, and became forever known as the "Rock of the Marne."
We visited Greves Farms in France and saw where young Lt. Hayes, a Field Artillery Soldier with the 3rd ID, would ride horse after horse between the Artillery headquarters to the front lines, keeping two French batteries in the fight by providing accurate fires and ultimately turning the tide of the advancing German Army. He had seven horses shot out from underneath him that day and would become the 1st recipient of the Medal of Honor for 3rd ID.
These experiences gave me an appreciation for our forefathers that I never really grasped before.
Additionally, watching this year's Sullivan Cup winners (Top Tank Crew in the Army) get promoted by the Marne River - that hallowed ground - was inspirational and something I am sure they will never forget.
Here at home, having my family participate in the Fort Stewart Remembrance Run 5K to honor the 468 fallen Dogface Soldiers commemorated at Warriors Walk. Meeting the Ramirez and Lamies families was humbling. They are two Gold Star families who were there to pay tribute to their sons.
Then having the opportunity to meet and spend time with Pauline Conner and her family in Washington, D.C. to posthumously honor 1st Lt. Garlin Conner for his actions in WWII. It was truly humbling to witness President Trump honor his actions and present the Medal of Honor to the family, making Conner the 56th MoH awardee within the 3rd ID.
I got to personally welcome home the final flights for the 3rd ID Sustainment Brigade and Combat Aviation Brigade. Each unit had theater wide responsibilities, and was critical to the overall success of Operation Freedom Sentinel. After nine hard months it was a true honor to shake each of their hands and share in their elation as they stepped off their planes.
Finally, I attended a memorial for our most recent fallen Soldier. On July 7th Cpl. Joseph Maciel, a member of Task Force 1-28 Infantry, was killed in action in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. Maciel was a Grenadier in support of the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade. His memorial was held at Fort Benning, Georgia.
I am again humbled by the continued sacrifice of our Soldiers and families. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Soldiers, family and friends of Cpl. Maciel.