By Adrienne Anderson, The BayonetMay 4, 2011
FORT BENNING, Ga. - A memorial and dedication ceremony was held Wednesday on Kelley Hill for two Soldiers killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Two buildings, the CW2 Johnny Villareal Mata Weapons and Electronics Sustainment Facility and the SFC David James Salie Directorate of Logistics Warehouse Complex, were dedicated in honor of their namesakes.
The Mata Weapons and Electronics Sustainment Facility, named after Chief Warrant Officer 2 Johnny Mata, is a 22,000-square-foot building and serves as a repair and maintenance facility for weapons, optics, aiming devices and communication electronic equipment.
David Shepherd, Directorate of Logistics, said the building, which was completed in February, would be fully operational in less than a month. The building also contains a 25-meter indoor test range used to test weapons after repair - the first at Fort Benning.
Mata was serving with the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, Texas, when he was killed in action March 23, 2003 near An Nasiriya, Iraq.
"Chief Mata spent a career as a maintenance Soldier and a leader," Shepherd said. "A leader of Soldiers providing outstanding support to units - I cannot think of a better honor for our DOL employees than to work out of the Mata complex and strive to achieve the excellence that Chief Mata exhibited every day. And that will be a motivator for our employees to make sure we are providing that support that's required."
The Salie Directorate of Logistics Warehouse Complex, named in honor of Sgt. 1st Class David Salie of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, is 160,000square feet and will house supply services and transportation support for Soldiers, Shepherd said. Supplies include maintenance repair parts, package petroleum products and daily consumables.
Salie was killed in action while serving with B Company in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005.
Deanna Brown Salie, David's widow, said she was honored to have a building named after her husband.
"We know that David should be honored, but to have the Army say that he should be honored - it's an unbelievable feeling because you realize he hasn't been forgotten," she said. "His memory is still alive here at Fort Benning. And I'm glad that it is because it means a lot to my kids, myself and my mother-in-law."
Patricia Miers, David's mother, said her son is always thought of highly.
"Even though some of these guys are new to the unit, they all know David," she said. "They know his story."
Staff Sgt. Thomas Taylor, who served with Salie during Operation Iraqi Freedom, said his character and leadership style were unmatched. Taylor, along with the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, attended the ceremony.
"(If) Salie told you to jump off a bridge, his Soldiers would jump," Taylor said. "They wouldn't question his leadership style - they would just do what he asked. And I believe that someone like myself will take that leadership and learn from that and carry it on with the rest of the Army because he was a leader among leaders."
Shepherd said activities in both buildings will work provide support for Fort Benning as well as military organizations in 80 counties in Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle.