By Andrew Sharbel, Belvoir EagleJuly 9, 2010
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Cpl. Aristides Sosa, a Soldier in Company A, 65th Engineering Battalion, 25th Infantry Division was killed in Vietnam at age 21 when the unit he was traveling with was attacked during a reconnaissance mission near Lai Theiu.
During the attack and after being wounded in an explosion, Sosa hurled his body on an enemy grenade, saving several of his fellow Soldiers. For his actions, Sosa was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Fort Belvoir honored Sosa Thursday by naming and rededicating the Army Community Service building and Soldier Family Assistance Center in a ceremony attended by members of his surviving family.
Sosa's sister, the Honorable Gloria Sosa-Lintner, a judge in the New York City judiciary system, and her family attended, as did two of Sosa's cousins. His family was joined by the Belvoir command team, Installation Commander Col. Jerry Blixt, Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane and Deputy to the Installation Commander Stephen Brooks.
Built in 1976, the building originally housed a recreation facility for Soldiers and was named after Sosa shortly thereafter. A formal dedication ceremony was never held then.
In spring 2008, the recreational aspects of the building relocated to the Community Center and ACS and SFAC were both relocated to Sosa, Bldg. 200.
Bill Parsons, the director of Family MWR Belvoir, opened the ceremony by noting the significance of rededicating the building.
"It is appropriate that we rededicate now because the function of the building has changed from a community center to a Soldier and family support center and also an Army Community Service center," Parsons said. "Everything that happens in this building is in support of Soldiers, their families and making sure their lives are taken care of in a way or that they're able to take care of themselves in a way that furthers the mission of the Army."
Jim Burnett, project leader for the rededication, gave an in-depth biography of Sosa's life.
After Burnett, the command team spoke about Sosa's memory and what it means for Soldiers.
"When you think about his service and the lasting legacy he left, it is a proud day for Belvoir," Blixt said. "What he did was a mark of bravery and his 21 years will always be an everlasting memory."
After the unveiling of a plaque in the foyer, Sosa-Lintner spoke on the family's behalf.
"To say that we are proud and overwhelmed by this rededication of the Sosa Building is an understatement," she said. "My brother, who was only 21 when he died, left a family legacy as a loving, gentle, caring and supportive son and brother and we kept his memory alive by talking about him.
"From 1969 to 2007, the Sosa family had no idea that his memory lived on and was commemorated by this building," she said.
At the end of the ceremony, Belvoir gave a framed version of the three citations Sosa received for his actions to his family: the Distinguished Service Cross citation, a Presidential Citation and a Purple Heart citation. The family was also given a framed photo of the building bearing his name.
In return, Sosa-Lintner gave the installation Sosa's actual combat boots, which the family
had bronzed after his death.