By Capt. David Hanna, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division WestDecember 4, 2012
BELTON, Texas --Soldiers of the 479th Field Artillery Brigade's 3-395th Armored Battalion recently executed another chapter of their restoration efforts on the Dulaney Cemetery located on the A.C. Ray Ranch here.
The maintenance is part of the battalion's ongoing effort to keep this historic cemetery a place for Family and friends to reflect and remember those laid to rest there.
For more than 12 years, the Soldiers of 3-395 Armored Battalion have worked with the Bell County Historical Society and Belton-area businesses to restore and improve the landscape of this 180-year-old cemetery. This final resting ground is home to pre-Texas revolution settlers of different social statuses and backgrounds, and it represents a unique corner of history.
To the Soldiers of the "Nighthawk Battalion" this project represents a tie into the local community and refines their understanding of the rich Central Texas culture.
Soldiers of Company C began the day by loading their weed trimmers, rakes and gasoline into the Nighthawk van and drove 15 minutes east to meet with retired Lt. Col. Don Miller and his dog, Buddy.
Miller is credited with being the catalyst for the battalion's involvement with the Dulaney Cemetery, as he and a few senior officers of Fort Hood frequented the A.C. Ray Ranch for seasonal dove hunting. On one such occasion, Don and his companions stumbled upon the pastoral cemetery and recognized the relevance of the site. They petitioned for a Fort Hood-based unit to adopt the cemetery and began what has become a rewarding relationship for the Soldiers, the county historical society, and the extended Families of those laid to rest.
Limited summer rainfall caused little change to the cemetery's appearance from the battalion's restoration efforts last spring, and the Soldiers had little to contend with as they quickly attended to the maintenance needs of the site. Miller provided the team of Soldiers with lunch and assured them that their work was noticed by the community they serve.
By early afternoon, the Soldiers, Miller and Buddy had finished with the maintenance of the Dulaney Cemetery. The taller grass had been cut, weeds pulled, headstones cleaned off, and numerous dead branches dragged away. Plans for next Spring's restoration effort focus on clearing debris, cutting down dead or dying trees, and fixing broken headstones or building new headstone bases.
The Dulaney Cemetery is an important historical site for the people of Central Texas who welcome the Soldiers of Fort Hood with open arms. The Soldiers of the Nighthawk Battalion appreciate the people of Central Texas and look forward to helping maintain a piece of their history and continuing this special relationship with the A.C. Ray Ranch and others in the area.