FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - The 101st Airborne Division’s Soldiers past and present within the mortar platoon from 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment “Above the Rest”, 1st Brigade Combat Team “Bastogne” honored one of their fallen heroes, retired Master Sgt. Thomas LeVesque, with a flag folding ceremony June 19 at the Bastogne Memorial.
Seven Soldiers that served with LeVesque traveled from across the country to honor their former platoon sergeant that served with him in Desert Shield/Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991 within Bulldog Battalion.
One of LeVesque’s Soldiers retired Master Sgt. Richard Hagedorn, led the way in organizing the ceremony and was the lead speaker at this event. Hagedorn served 24 years in the Army and retired in 2013. His first assignment was in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-327th Inf. Regt. within the Mortar Platoon under his former platoon sergeant LeVesque.
"I was lucky to be a part of this great unit and have Master Sgt. LeVesque as my first platoon sergeant,” Hagedorn said. “I learned a lot about how a leader should be, know and do. He was confident and competent in his duties and he cared for all of us.”
LeVesque passed away 13 years ago on June 1st. Hagedorn and LeVesque’s son, Mark LeVesque, had a conversation and began reminiscing on all of the good times and memories they shared with Master Sgt. LeVesque.
During that conversation, Mark found out that Hagedorn was traveling to his once childhood home and birthplace Fort Campbell. That is when the idea sparked to hold a special ceremony for his father.
"Rich and I were sharing stories on the phone a week or so ago," Mark said. "I mentioned I would like for him and some of the Soldiers from Dad's platoon to refold his flag in his honor. Rich was all about it. He just took the idea and ran with it. It turned out better than I could have imagined.”
The ceremony was live-streamed on social media outlets to ensure all of Levesque’s family, friends and Soldiers who could not be present to the event could witness the occasion.
The outpouring of respect, attendance at the event and sincere love for LeVesque was warmly received by his entire family.
“It’s hard to describe in words,” Mark said. “To see what people meant to him was incredible. I watched the video at least five times today. My father loved the 101st. I am extremely grateful. We can’t put it into words. The only word I can describe it is unbelievable. It’s definitely a closure.”
This ceremony meant a lot to the family but it certainly inspired the Soldiers currently serving within the mortar platoon.
The majority of the platoon was packing and setting conditions to prepare for training in the field early the next morning, but several Soldiers ensured that they were in attendance to honor a hero within their lineage.
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Hansen, mortar platoon sergeant, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-327 Inf. Regt. felt honored to fold the flag for a Soldier that once served in his position so many years ago.
“We folded a flag with Soldiers who served in this platoon 30 years ago,” Hansen said. “You hear so much about these guys who were in that position back then and they were so great. It makes me ask if I’m good enough to be in this spot. Since I am it’s very uplifting.”