By Mr. Bryan Gatchell (Benning)November 20, 2018
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 19, 2018) -- Members of the Association of the 3rd Armored Division Veterans, arriving by the busload, attended the 3rd Armored Division Monument dedication ceremony at Patton's Park outside of the Benning Road Gate Nov. 17.
The Army activated the 3rd Armored Division in April 1941 at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, fought in the European Theater during World War II, was inactivated in 1945, reactivated in 1947 when its mission shifted to supporting U.S. efforts during the Cold War, and also took part in the Gulf War in the early 1990s.
The monument is located among the armored vehicles the 3rd AD used during its multi-decade history, and its four-sided structure represents these three eras of the unit's history -- WWII, Cold War, Gulf War -- plus the unit as a whole.
Donald Davis, a platoon leader with the 3rd Brigade, 3rd AD, and then an operations officer from 1984 to 1988, was the treasurer for the association.
"This wouldn't have been possible without everyone's involvement," said Davis. "Without all our members here who decided this was a worthwhile effort, it wouldn't have come together."
There was a blue sky and a slight breeze the day of the unveiling. The crowd bowed their heads in prayer during the invocation. As Chaplain (Capt.) Roland O. Geyrozaga II prayed, a breeze picked up and prematurely unveiled the monument the official unveiling party had a chance to.
Three speakers took turns speaking about the 3rd Armored Division, Walter Stitt, a World War II veteran of the division, Retired Lt. Gen. Tom Griffin, who commanded the division during the Cold War, and Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Hill, who was the division's command sergeant major during Operation Desert Storm.
According to a report after World War II, 1,810 Soldiers had been killed in action from the 3rd Armored Division.
"I served with a great group of people," said Stitt of his time in the division. "I am proud that I was with them. And I wish more of them were here with me today."
Griffin, during his speaking portion of the ceremony, recounted several anecdotes during his time in command from June 1986 to March 1988.
"The American Army is built on the strength of its junior leaders," he said, talking about how it was both the junior leaders and the noncommissioned officers who were in the field and protecting U.S. allies in Europe.
Like Griffin and Stitt before him, Hill, focused on the Soldiers he was with during his time with the 3rd AD, calling them "the best Soldiers in the world."
"Each and every one of you made me a better man, a better Soldier, and I thank you for that," he said.
"It's very important for us to remember our history," said Davis of the monument. "And the 3rd Armored Division was a very big part of that throughout World War II, throughout the Cold War, and of course through Iraq."
The association also held a formal banquet Nov. 16 at the National Infantry Museum, during which Davis and Larry Klauser and World War II veterans Clarence Smoyer and Walter Stitt were inducted into the Order of Saint George. The Order of Saint Maurice was awarded to Griffin, Don Duckworth, Joe Gogola, Retired Maj. Matt Makaryk and World War II veteran Buck Marsh.
For more photos from these events, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com/Maneuver-Center/Departments/Public-Affairs-Office/VIP-Group-Visits/2018-VIP-and-Group-Visit/2018-11-16-3rd-Armored-Division-Veterans-group-photo.