News: Honoring fallen Fort Bliss soldiers, remembering their sacrifice
Story by Jade Fulce
FORT BLISS, Texas - Fort Bliss and the Balfour Beatty Communities Foundation dedicated the Field of Honor Memorial to fallen Fort Bliss soldiers May 2 at Howze Stadium.
“This dedication means everything to me because I am here honoring my son, Spc. Jamaal Addison,” said Patricia Roberts. “And when I heard [Osama bin Laden] was killed, I thanked God because his timing is perfect to know that all these people would be honored here today.”
Fort Bliss leaders, soldiers, families and civilians, and Balfour Beatty Communities Foundation officials gathered at the ceremonial unveiling. The memorial commemorates Fort Bliss soldiers who lost their lives after Sept. 11, 2001, during operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.
“The last place he touched on U.S. soil is here and now there is a place his son can see his father’s name,” said Roberts.
Addison, a soldier who was assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company, was killed in action March 2003 in Iraq during an ambush in which several Fort Bliss soldiers were taken as prisoners of war. When his father was killed, Roberts’ grandson, Jamaal Addison II, was a year old.
“I really miss him,” said Addison II. “I wish he was here and could see how I have grown.”
Roberts and Addison II were among a number of family members and love ones who traveled to pay tribute to their fallen soldiers.
“When you look at the Field of Honor, know that a lot of thought and design went into its creation,” said Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, Fort Bliss commanding general. “The curve of the granite wall is symbolic of strength. The flowing water represents life itself, constantly in motion and ever-changing.”
There are 53 soldiers honored on the wall, many served with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, commanded by Brig. Gen. Stephen Twitty, a colonel at the time.
“This ceremony brought back a lot of memories because a majority of the soldiers I personally knew,” said Twitty, now Fort Bliss’ deputy commanding general. “I pretty much think about them every day and the experiences that we went through while we were in combat. This morning a lot of emotions went through me as I sat there listening to every name and every date that these soldiers were killed in action.”
Twitty said 33 of the soldiers he lost are represented on the plaque; however, he lost a total of 44 soldiers, but the others were not stationed here.
“This ceremony put faces of children, wives, dads and so forth back in front of me,” Twitty added. “Oftentimes, we see the face of our soldiers, but we do not see the faces of those they left behind. So, it was a very emotional day seeing the young kids of these soldiers that perished.”
Balfour Beatty Communities Foundation designed and sponsored the Field of Honor Memorial here. According to its website, the foundation is a nonprofit organization that honors active, disabled and fallen military personnel through building memorials, helping secure specially adapted homes, and financial support to military children.
“We will never forget you,” said Pittard. “Team Bliss will always remember your sacrifice.”
Pittard emphasized to attendees that these fallen Fort Bliss soldiers did not die in vain and that some buildings will be named after the fallen comrades at East Fort Bliss. Pittard stressed that bin Laden’s death was an important milestone and the nation will win the war of terror.