By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff WriterMarch 15, 2013
Dozens of former military police and officers who were based at Fort Myer during the 20th century have given their first-hand accounts of war time proceedings to the Veteran History Project.
One veteran's story provided historical significance to a tragic event on America's home front in April, 1945. Fort Myer Sgt. David C. Speicher of the 703rd Military Police Battalion and a Greenwood, Del., native recalled his involvement in the ceremonies following the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
"… Our whole unit marched in President Roosevelt's funeral parade," Speicher said in his interview which is available online or at the Library of Congress. "And we stood at parade rest for an hour on Constitution Avenue, waiting for the body to come out of the [Capitol] rotunda to go down to Constitution Avenue into Union Station to be shipped to New York."
In his donated memoir, then Army Lt. William F. Brand, a member of 16th Field Artillery Battalion and a Battle of the Bulge veteran, explained the role he played at Fort Myer months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The solemn, traditional base rituals he described in his writings are continued today by The Old Guard Soldiers.
"One of the claims to fame of the 16th Field Artillery Battalion was that it had a white horse battery whose primary mission was to move the caissons carrying the caskets of those to be buried in Arlington Cemetery," wrote Brand, who finished his military career as a colonel. "I suppose the Army decided the only way it was going to get any real use out of the 16th Field Artillery was to move it out of Fort Myer away from the Washington area. So the Army did that and ordered the 16th Field Artillery to Fort Riley, Kan."
More than a hundred Fort Myer veterans, from World War II to Desert Storm, have recounted their wartime experiences to the VHP. To find Soldiers who have given their oral histories to the VHP, go to www.loc.gov/vets/ and click on the search the veterans collections link.