Gold Star Spouses assist with Wall of Honor unveiling at Fort Lee
Loretta Booker hangs a picture of her late husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Corwyn A. Booker Jr., as Survivor Outreach Services coordinator Angela Bellamy looks on during the Gold Star Spouses Day event Tuesday in the new SOS office on post. The occasion – in which spouses of the fallen were invited to hang pictures of their loved ones – served to remember deceased military members in a dedicated space. Among those in attendance were several spouses as well as Col. Karin L. Watson and Command Sgt. Maj. Tamisha A. Love, garrison commander and CSM, respectively. The ceremony also marked the relocation of the SOS office from the Army Community Service building to the garrison headquarters on A Avenue. (U.S. Army photo by T. Anthony Bell) (Photo Credit: T. Anthony Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. – The installation’s official Wall of Honor became a reality Tuesday when a group of Gold Star Spouses lovingly hung photos of their departed loved ones on a wall of the new Survivor Outreach Services office in Roberson Hall.

The occasion was made even more significant by the timing – Gold Star Spouses Day was observed on April 5.

Angela Bellamy, SOS coordinator, said her previous office lacked the square footage needed for a Wall of Honor display. She proudly noted their success, however, in creating a Memorial Garden adjacent to the Army Community Service facility along Mahone Avenue. The decision last year to relocate their office to the garrison headquarters rekindled aspirations for an indoor display.

“When (ACS chief) Ms. (Stephanie) Parker said the garrison command wanted us to move over here to be close to the Casualty Assistance Center, we realized we’d have room for our Wall of Honor; the one we really wanted,” she said of her newly renovated office.

SOS – in need of a more private and spacious area – relocated in March. The Casualty Assistance Center moved to Roberson Hall from the Soldier Support Center late last year. The complimenting organizations serve families of the fallen, branch of service is immaterial, from the time of death until survivors deem their support is no longer needed. In official terms, it is known as the Army Casualty Continuum of Care.

Gold Star Spouses assist with Wall of Honor unveiling at Fort Lee
Family members examine framed photographs of fallen service members prior to the Gold Star Spouses Day event April 5 at the newly opened Survivor Outreach Services office in the garrison headquarters building on A Avenue. SOS relocated from the Army Community Service facility in a move that made them neighbors with the Casualty Assistance Center. (U.S. Army photo by T. Anthony Bell) (Photo Credit: T. Anthony Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL

During the unveiling ceremony, spouses were called forth to a table of framed photographs. One by one, each presented the portraits and names of their loved ones and proceeded to a nearby 12-foot-long wall to hang the images with the support of Parker and Bellamy. They also were assisted by Col. Karin L. Watson and Command Sgt. Maj. Tamisha A. Love, garrison commander and CSM, respectively.

Watson said the wall is not only “a wonderful idea,” but more importantly, “a meaningful gesture of support” to the spouses of those who died in service to the country.

“Please know,” she said, directing her words to the spouses gathered, “that this is a wonderful way to show that we stand with you, that we support you, that we’ll always remember with you … and that every day that anyone comes in this room, they will remember them and your sacrifice.”

Gold Star Spouses assist with Wall of Honor unveiling at Fort Lee
Elma Matthews holds a portrait of Master Sgt. Joe Matthews during a Gold Star Spouses Day event April 5 at Fort Lee’s newly opened Survivor Outreach Services office in the garrison headquarters building on A Avenue. Moments later, Matthews hung the portrait of her spouse on the SOS Wall of Honor. (U.S. Army photo by T. Anthony Bell) (Photo Credit: T. Anthony Bell ) VIEW ORIGINAL

Following the ceremony, Loretta Booker, spouse of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Corwyn Booker Jr., said the portrait hangings represented a broader recognition of her husband’s sacrifices – one in which “someone besides the family is acknowledging and honoring him.”

Booker was one of eight spouses present.

Christine I. Murphy, SOS financial counselor and event narrator, said the Wall of Honor is a platform providing a measure of perpetuity to those who sacrificed.

“As long as their name is called, they never leave us,” she said. “So, what this means to us is to keep their names alive even though they’re physically not with us. It shows our spouses and families that we stand by what we say: ‘their loved ones will never be forgotten.’”

Following the ceremony, the guests were provided a catered Mission BBQ lunch in a breakroom next door.

SOS is now located at 3312 A Avenue, building 12012, on the first floor. It can be reached at 804-765-6445.