The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence presented a memorial memento to the El Paso Walmart June 16, in honor of the 23 souls who were lost on August 3, 2019, as a result of the mass shooting incident. Members of the NCOLCoE met with Walmart representatives at the site of the Grand Candela Memorial overlooking the city of El Paso and its sister city of Juarez, Mexico.
Jesse McKinney, chief of staff off the NCOLCoE, led of the presentation by asking all to bow their heads in silence in honor of the souls lost on the tragic day.
“Some of the Soldiers here have served in situations where they did not know what was going to happen at any time throughout the day,” he said. “You don’t expect that of a Walmart.”
McKinney said the NCOLCoE wanted to provide Walmart with a memento for the store to honor those who died during the tragic event to show that “the shooter did not take our spirit.”
“It grew an El Paso Strong feeling across this city which brought us together much more so than other cities of our size,” he said. “We are one community.”
Command Sgt. Maj. David Lee, deputy commandant of the NCOLCoE, said there has always been a strong community and partnership between El Paso and Fort Bliss and the incident affected the military community deeply.
“On behalf of the commandant of the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and the Sergeants Major Academy we wanted this opportunity to provide this small memento from our families to the El Paso community,” Lee said. “We are truly El Paso Strong.”
Before the memento was revealed, Sgt. Maj. Rudy Rodriguez, G 3/5/7 sergeant major, read a letter from the commandant which accompanied the memento. The letter reads:
On August 3, 2019, El Paso suffered a terrible and unforgettable heartbreak as a result of the El Paso Walmart mass shooting. Since the tragic incident, we’ve observed and heard every emotion on the spectrum – from rage to anguish – but we never lost hope.
Please accept this token from the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence as our homage to the fallen from the El Paso Walmart shooting. As your friend and neighbor, I want you to know we mourn with you as we remember and honor their sacrifice. This plaque pays tribute to the lives lost and honors the men and women who contributed to the hope our city continues to have.
The plaque is bordered on two sides by 23 chips representing the precious lives we lost during this tragedy. There are also three country flags displayed on each chip representing the heritage of the victims from the United States of America, Mexico, and Germany.
The picture in the center is El Paso’s Star on the Mountain. The cross atop it represents the hope this city embodies. There are 23 doves flying away; this depiction symbolizes the fallen, and each of their names are written below the sunset.
Inside the frame, there is a wooden disc, a commandant’s coin, and the American flag. The disc is engraved with the following, “In this flag we are all one people united against evil! The enclosed US Flag was flying over the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence on Fort Bliss, at the exact time of the El Paso Walmart mass shooting.”
The last line on the disk avows and reaffirms, we are “One Nation under God.”
Thank you for the opportunity to pay homage to not only the fallen, but to the El Paso community. As a community we must remind ourselves that after remembrance and reflection, comes renewal. We know as one we are strong, but together we are El Paso Strong!
With deepest respect,
Jimmy J. Sellers
Command Sergeant Major, US Army
“It means a lot,” Robert Adam Evans, store manager said. “We lost 23 lives from this tragedy and with the support of the Army and all of you folks building something for remembrance of the loss of those lives and souls really means a lot to the community, to the store, and to anyone walking in and out of the building.”
“This is a great event. Being that it is coming from the military is extra special,” Kirk Behrens, market manager for El Paso Walmart said. “A Soldier understand combat, citizens don’t. They were in a combat situation that day. I think for the NCOLCoE to be reaching out just underscores how dedicated they are to the community of El Paso and they understand a lot of what people are going through.”
Behrens said the memento will hang inside the store in an area for everyone to see.
Additional photos of this event can be viewed on our Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/sgmacademy/albums.