By Jennifer BradySeptember 19, 2011
Nostalgia was the key sentiment at the U.S. Army Garrison Inactivation and Color Casing Ceremony for Fort Monmouth, N.J., as an emotional crowd of military personnel and civilians, some formerly employed at the base, gathered around the steps of Russel Hall, the garrison headquarters, on a sunny afternoon, Sept. 13, 2011.
Davis Tindoll, Jr., Installation Management Command Atlantic Region director, George Fitzmaier, Fort Monmouth Garrison manager, Martin Venturo, Fort Monmouth Deputy Garrison manager, and Command Sgt. Maj. Lesly McCorkle, Fort Monroe Garrison command sergeant major comprised the official party.
Alfred Mangino, Installation Safety Office director, began the ceremony by recounting some of the historical 94 years of service and technological innovations undertaken by the workforce at the base. As the roar of prop-wash grew closer, eyes were drawn skyward as such innovations, many that are now used on a daily basis by service members on the battlefield, were further emphasized by the flyover of a Blackhawk helicopter. Some of the groundbreaking accomplishment made at the installation were further highlighted by Davis Tindoll, Jr., but it was his recognition of Fort Monmouth as a home for those who served there that reflected mixed feelings among those in attendance.
"What a great home it has been," said Tindoll, "because the surrounding communities have taken great care of the people that our Army saw fit to send to Fort Monmouth. This great community relationship is what made Fort Monmouth a special duty station for soldiers, civilians and family members and it is what makes leaving here so difficult."
Fitzmaier also shared bittersweet sentiment at the closing of Fort Monmouth, but with an optimistic reminder that the mission which began at Fort Monmouth so many years ago, did not end with its closing. "As we case the Fort Monmouth Garrison color, let us not dwell on regrets about what used to be or what might have been…but instead remember fondly and with great pride the legacy of Fort Monmouth," he said. "We owe it to this installation and its legacy to not be bitter but to instead be very proud of the fact that we will always carry on Fort Monmouth's heritage in our hearts and minds."
Among other military and civilian VIPs in attendance were current leaders such as Maj. Gen. Randolph Strong, CECOM commanding general and Sgt. Maj. Jurgen Williams, CECOM acting command sergeant major, as well as well as community representatives from the surrounding area including Eatontown, Shrewsbury and Oceanport.
Strong shared Fitzmaier's optimism.
"Although this post will close, the legacy lives on and can never be changed…this was a special place," said Strong. "The culture and heritage that is C4ISR moves with the organization as it continues its world-class support mission to our servicemembers around the world."
The large turnout was reflective of the tightly knit community established at the Fort, and the atmosphere at the conclusion of the ceremony was reminiscent of a reunion among old friends. As pointed out by Fitzmaier, "You want to be a part of something you believe in, and you want it to endure. That's why people are here today."
The ceremonial closing was followed by the final retreat of Fort Monmouth Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011.