FORT HOOD, Texas - Hell On Wheels Avenue, a westbound one-way road fronting nearly seven miles of motor pools here, recalls a time when the 2nd Armored Division called the Great Place its home.
On April 8, the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) Association left another lasting landmark with the dedication of a monument in the Fort Hood Memorial Park.
More than two dozen veterans and their families were on hand to place a wreath at the site of the etched black marble monument and remember a time when the Hell On Wheels Division protected the northern reaches of Western Europe for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during the Cold War era, all the way up until Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
They lost eight of their members during that conflict, and each of those names were read at the ceremony following the placement of a red, white and blue flowered wreath. Seven of the fallen served with 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, and one with 3rd Bn., 66th Armored Regt.
“There is a lot of history here with the 2nd Armored Division,” said retired Lt. Col. Paul Dulchinos, commander of the 2nd AD (Fwd) Assn., and who served as the master of ceremonies for the dedication. “It feels great. Looking at the monument, I think it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful park. I’m glad that Fort Hood has done this for all the units, kind of brought them all together at one central park as opposed to being scattered about, and everyone can come here and honor the units they used to service with.”
Dulchinos also paused to honor former Sgt. James Purcell, calling him the “catalyst in creating an organization to remember those forgotten warriors of 2nd AD Forward.
“He wanted to create an environment conducive to reestablishing and maintaining what he called, ‘foxhole friendships,’ made in (our) units,” Dulchinos added. “Although he is not here with us in body, I know he is with us in spirit looking down upon us with a big smile on his face as we realize his dream.”
Purcell passed away in January.
The keynote speaker for the event, author, historian and retired Col. Tom Vossler said he and his wife, Barbara, drove 1,600 miles to be at this dedication ceremony from their home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The trip included a small detour to North Carolina, where Vossler said he saw Purcell laid to rest in a veterans cemetery there.
The Vosslers lived and served at Fort Hood in the mid-1980s. He said he and his wife have been amazed coming back to Central Texas nearly four decades later and seeing how much things have changed … for the better.
“(We talked about) on the way in, as we came down through Waco and Temple how we used to drive over there for dinner,” Vossler said, “because there just wasn’t that much here. That’s a major change.”
Besides seeing the changes to the greater Fort Hood area, Vossler said it was even better to be among his Soldiers again, most of whom were a lot younger than him when they served in 2nd AD in the 1980s and held the line for freedom during the Cold War years.
“We won that war,” Vossler stated. “We out-trained the Russians.”
“Sometimes we say, ‘legacy is what you leave behind,’ and that’s probably an inadequate way of defining that word,” Col. Chad R. Foster, commander, U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood said prior to welcoming the group to the installation. “A legacy is what others take from you and carry forward. This is a chance to be part of that, a chance to be with people who have … given people like me … and all of the Soldiers serving today, (a part of themselves) and we’re taking it with us and carrying it forward.”