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housands in this sprawling Central Texas post paused for a solemn memorial held for nine fallen warriors June 16 during a service inside the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel.
Eight Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and one cadet from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, were the victims of flash flood waters while conducting convoy operations June 2 on Fort Hood.
"Today, we honor and pay tribute to nine fallen comrades of the 1st Cav. Div.," said Maj. Gen. John 'J.T.' Thomson III, 1st Cav. Div. commanding general. "These exceptional cavalry troopers from Fox Forward Support Company … represent the best our nation has to offer."
Thomson added that as the community mourns the lives lost, "We also praise them for who they were, what they stood for and how they honorably served our nation.
"They were many things to many people -- sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and husbands, caring friends, trustworthy classmates and loyal comrades-in-arms," he said.
Central Texas and the Army family across the nation came together in the wake of the flood to support those in mourning and remember the lives of each victim. The venue for the service has a capacity of 1,500, which was not large enough to seat all those hoping to attend. To reach out to hundreds more, the ceremony was live-streamed to Howze Theater, the Phantom Warrior Center and several conference rooms within the chapel itself.
“Honor knows no gender,” artist Steve Alpert said at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, June 13.
Alpert spoke following the unveiling of a triptych titled “Portrait of a Woman.” His work depicts a female soldier seen from three directions -- both profiles and from the back. She is saluting the U.S. flag.
A triptych is a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.
The subject of Alpert’s work is a warrior wearing the combat patch of the storied 101st Airborne Division on her sleeve. “She looks fierce,” said one of the women veterans who attended the unveiling.
That was the idea, Alpert said during an interview.
“Courage is what an ordinary person does in an extraordinary situation,” he said. “’Portrait of a Woman’ honors the girls next door who went and signed up, volunteered for the armed services. They took the oath to protect the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the pursuit of the American Dream. I define that as courage, and I see them as heroes.”
For most of the past two years, Col. Joseph Ryan was on standby, waiting for the Army to send him and his 4,200 troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team across the globe to respond to crises or pitch in aid after a natural disaster.
As the unit on status as the Global Response Force, he knew he would have to recall and deploy his paratroopers in as little as 18 hours.
"The experience of being on the Global Response Force, it revalidates the notion that the paratrooper and 82nd Airborne Division can do anything," he said. "We give them training that challenges them and pushes them to prepare for deployment. We work very hard, train very hard, challenge ourselves on a daily basis."
Ryan will leave the 2nd Brigade Combat Team as he heads to Washington, D.C., to serve as the executive officer to the Army's chief of staff at the Pentagon. He'll be working directly with Gen. Mark Milley, the former commander of Forces Command who is currently the Army's chief of staff.
"It's a great opportunity," Ryan said. "It's a challenge, and I'm looking forward to it."
Ryan's path to the Pentagon began when he was accepted into the United States Military Academy. He grew up near West Point and knew he wanted to pursue a military career.
"My family had a lot of pride," he said. "Being in the Army and leading people was something I really enjoy."
Ryan graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1991 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant of infantry.
Drew Faust gave one of the signal speeches of her Harvard presidency at West Point this past March. The subject was education in the humanities—and in leadership. Her talk brought to the fore common Faust themes: immersion in the arts and humanities and learning to think critically about values. The venue and format (a formal address, rather than the occasions where an interlocutor poses questions, and Faust’s answers are briefer) made a difference.
At the United States Military Academy (USMA), as Faust noted, “the humanities are resources that build ‘self-awareness, character, [and] perspective,’ and enable leaders to compel and to connect with others.” She identified three ways in which that occurs. “First,” she said, “leaders need perspective”—the historical and cultural lenses that clarify a situation through “empathy: how to see ourselves inside another person’s experience. How to picture a different possibility.” Second, “leaders need the capacity to improvise. I often point out that education is not the same thing as training for a job.…Circumstances evolve. Certainly, soldiers know…that our knowledge needs to be flexible, as we grapple with complexity in an instant.” Third, she emphasized how leaders like Churchill and Lincoln “use the persuasive power of language.”
Two broad applications to Harvard come to mind. One concerns transitions. West Point, Faust noted, was “the nation’s first college of engineering.” Now, even as “other institutions drop liberal-arts requirements, military academies have been adding them. Over the past 50 years, West Point has transformed its curriculum into a general liberal-arts education, graduating leaders with broad-based knowledge of both the sciences and the humanities, and the ability to apply that knowledge in a fluid and uncertain world.” The College, grounded as it has been in the traditional liberal arts, is very much tilting the other way, expanding engineering and applied sciences, and inspiriting entrepreneurship. That prompts anxieties about waning student interest in humanities and adults’ responsibility to assure that their charges are broadly, not merely vocationally, educated.
Hundreds of Family, friends, comrades and supporters attended a memorial held for Cadet Mitchell Alexander Winey, 21, at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel, June 9.
Winey, of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, was one of nine victims when flood waters took his life, and the lives of eight Soldiers, while conducting convoy operations with 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, June 2.
"We are here on a solemn day, to pay tribute to a fallen comrade," said Maj. Gen. J.T. Thomson III, 1st Cav. Div. commanding general. "Today's ceremony allows Mitch's fellow cadets to honor him.
"To Mitch's Family," he added, "thank you for being here, and more so, thank you for allowing Mitch to serve our nation."
Winey's memorial was held ahead of the other eight fallen at Fort Hood as post officials wanted Winey's brothers- and sisters-in-arms to be able to attend. The cadets returned to New York Saturday. The memorials for Fort Hood's eight Soldiers will be held today at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel.
More than 100 cadets from West Point have been at Fort Hood since late May for their Cadet Troop Leadership Training -- a course all West Point cadets go through during their time at the academy.
Tall grass hid the advancing cadets from my perch in building 7. The tall grass hid nothing from the drone the defenders flew over their position, a Parrot AR 2.0, a common model used by civilian fliers. A minute later, after the drone pilot filmed the crawling cadets, instructors called in mock artillery fire. The cadets' position was compromised, and while the rest of their platoon advanced to take the buildings, these 10 cadets instead spent an hour in the sun contemplating what they could have done about the drone.
The answer was standing right behind them. As the smoke grenades denoting artillery landed nearby, a supporting electronic warfare officer aimed a rifle-shaped antenna at the drone. The drone crashed to the ground instantly, its camera going fuzzy and then only showing the pilot a close-up of asphalt.
The rest of the battle was a success for all involved: the defending squad of cadets successfully retreated, that attacking platoon took and held the buildings, and the Army Cyber Institute gave the Army’s next generation of leaders a taste of the complexity that cheap commercial technology can bring to modern war.
I, a non-combatant, am here at this rural training site near the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, on this June Thursday at the invitation of the Army Cyber Institute.
Part of the Army’s larger cyber complex, the Institute is a sort of internal think-tank at West Point, trying to figure out what the cyber component of warfare looks like in practice. “Cyber” is a broad term, and it mostly brings to mind people sitting at desks slinging code across the internet.
“Cyber electromagnetic activities,” says the definition in an Army field manual on the same, “are activities leveraged to seize, retain, and exploit an advantage over adversaries and enemies in both cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, while simultaneously denying and degrading adversary and enemy use of the same and protecting the mission command system.”
When Andrew Marr left his home of Argyle, Texas, to compete at the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games, winning his respective events of discus and shotput was not the first thing on his mind.
"Winning is a byproduct," said Marr, a medically retired Special Forces combat engineer. "I always try to contribute and perform to the best of my abilities and by doing that, my hope is that it will inspire and encourage others to know that they can do the same."
Marr's journey toward becoming an inspiration to other wounded warriors began years ago when he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) after receiving enemy 107mm rocket fire during a combat mission in Wardak, Afghanistan.
"I came back to and we were in a fight, so there wasn't really any time to think about it or talk about it," said Marr. "And it was just part of the job, so I didn't think much about it after that.
In addition to the rocket attack, Marr was continuously exposed to blast waves while performing his functions as a combat engineer.
"I was a breacher for our team. So, that means I put surgical explosive charges on denied points of entry," said Marr. "Being that my specialty was explosives, I was around countless explosions -- hundreds, if not thousands. Back then, we never made any correlation between head trauma and blast waves. It just wasn't a thing, nobody knew anything about it."
Eventually, the symptoms of his injury -- memory loss, vision issues, migraines, lost vocabulary, and depression -- led him to seek treatment for his TBI. During his journey, Marr says he crossed paths with a neuro-endocrinologist who not only drastically helped improve his condition, but in doing so inspired him to try to help others with the same condition.
The Army Reserve officer killed Sunday morning in the Orlando nightclub massacre had been in uniform for nearly eight years, deployed to Kuwait for 11 months during the drawdown from Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was remembered by his commanding officer as a leader who "truly cared about the Soldiers in his charge."
Capt. Antonio D. Brown, 30, was one of 49 victims in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Twenty-seven others who were injured when a gunman opened fire at Pulse nightclub remained hospitalized as of Tuesday afternoon, USA Today reported, including six in critical condition. The gunman reportedly died in a shootout with police.
Happy birthday to the U.S. Army.
The Army's 241st birthday is June 14. The day will be marked with celebrations and traditional cake cutting ceremonies held around the country.
"The U.S. Army's 241st Birthday is...a day we celebrate the Total Army Force comprised of multi-component Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians and their contributions to national defense. The American Soldier trains, deploys, engages, and destroys enemies of the United States in combat operations as the world's premier land force," Army officials said.
In additional to local events at military installations around the country, there will also be a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on June 14; Twilight Tattoo and Capitol Hill Cake Cutting on June 15; Pentagon Cake Cutting on June 16; Army Staff Run on June 17; and the Army Birthday Ball on June 18.
When the Warrior Games kick off Wednesday on the historic grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. some 250 injured and ill servicemembers and veterans will begin their gold medal quests in eight adaptive sports.
But for the people who have spent the last year preparing for the first Army-sponsored Warrior Games, the event is about much more than winning, said Col. Thomas Sutton, the planning and operations chief for Army Warrior Transition Command, which led the games’ preparations.
“It’s really about these athletes and their families who have overcome so much adversity,” Sutton said. “It’s about recognizing these men and women and continuing to build awareness and understanding – bringing into the spotlight their resiliency.”
The 2016 Warrior Games, the second games planned by the Defense Department and the sixth annual event, will run through June 21. The events include sitting volleyball, track and field, archery, cycling, wheelchair basketball, shooting and swimming.
Adaptive sports are a major part of the military’s programs to help injured troops rehabilitate as they transition back into service or into civilian life. Often athletics help the servicemembers gain confidence and, for many of them, provide an activity they can compete in the rest of their lives, Sutton said.
West Point was the obvious choice for the Army to host the games, he said.
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Recent Fallen Grads
- Mr. Matthew A. Tavrides, USMA1980: 04 Aug 1958 - 22 Aug 2016
- COL Edward J. Geldermann USA (Retired), USMA1941: 02 May 1919 - 22 Aug 2016
- LTC Carl T. Every USA (Retired), USMA1991: 11 May 1969 - 20 Aug 2016
- LTC William C. Edler II USA (Retired), USMA1951: 20 May 1927 - 18 Aug 2016
- Dr. Kent H. Butts, USMA1973: 24 Jan 1951 - 15 Aug 2016
- LTC Francis G. Sisk USA(Retired), USMA1961: 28 Oct 1935 - 14 Aug 2016
- LTC Ralph A. Koch Jr USA(Retired), USMA1953: 23 Feb 1931 - 12 Aug 2016
- Mr. Hugh W. Morgan, USMA1958: 02 Feb 1937 - 10 Aug 2016
- Mr. David N. Muir, USMA1970: 11 Jul 1947 - 07 Aug 2016
- Mr. Richard B. Moulton, USMA1954: 13 Jan 1932 - 05 Aug 2016
- LTG Craven C. Rogers Jr. USAF(Retired), USMA1957: 16 Sep 1934 - 04 Aug 2016
- COL David W. Arthur USA (Retired), USMA1966: 11 Dec 1942 - 03 Aug 2016
- LTC Michael J. Ilsemann USA (Retired), USMA1957: 13 Oct 1935 - 02 Aug 2016
- COL John W. Reitz USA (Retired), USMA1970: 25 Feb 1947 - 01 Aug 2016
- MG John G. Rossi USA, USMA1983: 18 Jun 1961 - 31 Jul 2016
- LTC Robert J. Hoffman USA(Retired), USMA1969: 18 Sep 1947 - 30 Jul 2016
- COL Walter R. Shope USA (Retired), USMA1962: 01 Feb 1940 - 30 Jul 2016
- MAJ Walter M. Plaue USA(Retired), USMA1958: 07 Nov 1935 - 30 Jul 2016
- Mr. William McCollam Jr., USMA1946: 15 Mar 1925 - 30 Jul 2016
- 2LT Michael Parros USA, USMA2016: - 27 Jul 2016
- COL James F. Fraser USA (Retired), USMA1947: 10 Sep 1923 - 26 Jul 2016
- Mr. John J. Leffler, USMA1951: 11 Dec 1926 - 25 Jul 2016
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- MG Robert W. Clement USA (Retired), USMA1950: 08 Aug 1927 - 22 Jul 2016
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- LTC George C. Fogle Jr. USA (Retired), USMA1969: 21 Jan 1947 - 20 Jul 2016