By T. Anthony BellMay 12, 2011
FORT LEE, Va. (May 12, 2011) -- In more than 28 years of military service, Col. (promotable) Clark W. LeMasters Jr. has probably attended hundreds of military ceremonies and formal occasions.
Maybe none impressed him like the one at the Lee Club May 4.
"It was a wonderful ceremony," said the chief of ordnance after the formalities. "I can't think of a better way to honor people who have served our country."
LeMasters was referring to the 2011 Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at which he presided. He was clearly wowed by the event he had never before attended and was impressed with the contributions the inductees made over their careers.
"It's unbelievable when you look at it," he said. "If you just add up the time they were in uniform, serving on active duty - 503 years worth of service - and many of them are providing service in various realms."
Seventeen Ordnance Corps Soldiers and civilians were honored for the event that drew approximately 300 people. Four were historical inductees, and the remainder were contemporary. Retired Sgt. Maj. James "Chip" Herrell, who hung up his boots in 2005, stood with the others in a receiving line after the ceremony and tried to describe the humility he felt in being among his fellow inductees.
"All you have to do is look up and down this same line at these individuals and equate that with what you've done in your career," he said. "I never once believed that they (his achievements) were as meaningful as what these people accomplished. So to stand here and have this honor bestowed upon me with this group is just incredible. I'll go to my grave with this."
During the latter part of his career, Herrell presided over a large military occupational specialty consolidation effort as the Ordnance Corps proponency sergeant major. He is currently assigned to the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Standing in the middle of the receiving line, were Capt. Patrick Engeman and his mom, Donna Engeman. Earlier, they had received a standing ovation as they accepted the Hall of Fame honors on behalf of Chief Warrant Officer 4 John W. Engeman who died in combat.
"To me, it's a great honor to see this happen," Patrick said. "My dad served 28 years and I was with him the whole time, and everyday he just poured his heart into his work. He loved the Army, loved the Ordnance Corps and loved being a warrant officer."
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Engeman was killed five years ago in Iraq by an improvised explosive device. He was on a volunteer assignment as an observer-controller/trainer.
Capt. Engeman is currently a student at the Army Logistics University. Mrs. Engeman is currently the survivor advocate for Headquarters, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, San Antonio (see story, Page 18).
James Q. Wheeler was also posthumously inducted. His last assignment was as director, U.S. Army Defense Ammunition Center at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. A DAC training facility is named in his honor.
Command Sgt. Maj. Sammy J. Brinson Jr., the 10th contemporary inductee, captured the sentiment of many of those who earned the honor: living out their careers with the singular purpose to do the best job they could and treating the opportunity as if it were a priviledge.
"I just came to serve my country," said Brinson, "not knowing that almost 30 years later I would be inducted. I just wanted to be a Soldier's Soldier."
Brinson capped his career as commandant, Noncommissioned Officers Academy at APG. He retired in 2006 and continues to support Soldiers through active participation.
The Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame honored its first inductees in 1969. It includes Ordnance Sgt. Moses Williams, a Buffalo Soldier and Medal of Honor recipient; Staff Sgt. Roy Judkins, the most decorated explosive ordnance disposal technician; J.M. Browning, inventor of the Browning Automatic Rifle; and Robert Parrot, inventor of the rifled cannon.
The Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is traditionally held as part of Ordnance Week activities that included a golf tournament, formal ball and various briefings. The corps celebrates its 199th anniversary this week.