News: Command Honor Guard receives Congressional Gold Coins
Story by Sgt. Micah VanDyke
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Unit pride and esprit de corps were seen throughout the room, April 12, when members of the I Corps Command Honor Guard from Joint Base Lewis-McChord received Congressional Gold Coins for their role in a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony.
Ten members of the Honor Guard performed at a historical ceremony which honored World War II veterans from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service, Jan. 14. During the ceremony, distinguished veterans were awarded the highest civilian award in the U.S., the Congressional Gold Medal.
For some veterans, it was their first time watching the Honor Guard perform in years. The veterans seemed honored to have the colors presented by the I Corps Command Honor Guard.
Retired Maj. Weldon Lee represented the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee during the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal Coins. His committee’s foundation was proud to conduct the ceremony for the Honor Guard.
“It is my esteemed pleasure to be here today to present a token of our appreciation to your I Corps' Command Honor Guard who did such a superb job,” said Lee during his opening speech. “It went beyond everybody’s expectations.”
Those in attendance looked on as a parent does when their child performs in a school play or a sporting event. They were filled with pride as their soldiers were recognized for their accomplishments.
“They took part in something that was very significant for veterans that, if you listen to what was said in regards to the experience, wasn’t just another typical ceremony,” said Sgt. Maj. John Pack, battalion rear detachment command sergeant major, HHB, I Corps. “It was a very moving ceremony for the veterans. I felt very privileged to hand the coins out to the soldiers who were phenomenal. They’ve done great things throughout the year.”
A rifleman, serving with the Honor Guard who was previously assigned to the 555th Engineer Brigade, seemed nervous until he saw his chain of command.
“Their support made me very, very proud of my leaders,” said Pfc. Tommy Jr Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is about halfway through his time with the Honor Guard, which is a one-year commitment. He was selected by his sergeant major over his peers to become part of the Honor Guard after completing only one year in the Army.
“I felt great being able to be a part of such a big event,” said Rodriguez with enthusiasm. “I definitely felt proud of myself and my colleagues for doing an excellent job.”
Spc. Donovan Dean, an infantryman currently assigned to the Honor Guard, had a different perspective on being a part of the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony.
Dean said that he was honored to be selected and enjoyed performing in the ceremony. He mentioned that he was ecstatic to learn details about the veterans who were recognized for their service.
“I felt really honored to do it,” added Dean. “I plan to display my congressional coin in the front row of my coin collection at home.”
As the ceremony came to a close, several leaders from JBLM congratulated each member of the Honor Guard for a job well done.