FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – The Chemical Corps honored six individuals who have made lasting contributions during a ceremony June 26 in the Regimental Room of the John W. Mahaffey Museum Complex here.
Since 1989 the Chemical Corps has imparted the highest form of recognition the regiment offers—inductions into the Hall of Fame. Two names were added to the existing 66: retired Maj. Gen. Ralph G. Wooten and the late Col. (Ret.) Merritt W. Briggs.
Maj. Gen. Ralph Wooten’s Chemical Vision 2010 transformed the Chemical Corps and the ability of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear staffs and units to protect the Joint Force and preserve combat power. He also led the relocation of the Chemical and Military Police Schools to Fort Leonard Wood and the subsequent integration of those schools with the Engineer School, forming the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center, now called Maneuver Support Center of Excellence.
The North Carolina native accepted the honor and recounted highlights of his storied career bringing laughter to the audience and a crowd who watched the ceremony by video from an overflow room. He cited being commander of the 2nd Chemical Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, as the “Cadillac of the Chemical Corps” and commandant of the U.S. Army Chemical School as his best job in the Army.
“There’s nothing like walking into a large auditorium and all the Chemical Corps soldiers know you’ve come all that way to visit with them and they can’t wait to tell you what they’ve learned and what they know,” Wooten said before thanking the Corps for the honor as well as his wife Becky.
“She’s been with me for 43 years, 23 moves and two rowdy boys,” he said.
Retired Col. Merritt W. Briggs was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame. With nearly 27 years in the Army that included service during WW II, Korea and Vietnam, Briggs received numerous accolades throughout his career including the Honorary Officer of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I for supporting a British brigade during a battle just two days after taking command, and the Silver Star while he was 2nd Heavy Chemical Mortar Battalion Commander during the Korean War where he organized and led a tank reconnaissance unit through enemy lines to the overrun mortar positions of two of his companies, then led a mission to recover all usable equipment.
His son, a chemical officer assigned to U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, spoke on behalf of his father who died in 1988.
“Through his deeds and accomplishments he serves as a leader worthy to emulate. He sacrificed much to serve our nation and the Chemical Corps, but I know that he had no regrets – and would do it again. He served honorably along with other great men in our Corps during a period of our history which we can only read about and imagine. But he made a difference and for this he will always be remembered,” said Col. Darryl J. Briggs.
Four individuals were named as distinguished Members of the Corps, an award given to those who’ve served in the Chemical Corps and continue to serve it in some capacity. They are: retired Maj. Gen. Sampson H. Bass Jr., retired Brig. Gen. Stanley H. Lillie, retired Master Sgt. Richard C. Robertson and Sgt. 1st Class Frank R. Cupp, a WW II veteran.
Maj. Gen. Sampson Bass Jr. was unable to attend the ceremony but provided a note that was read aloud. It said the recognition was “without a doubt the most exceptional honor” and that Bass missed the camaraderie of Regimental Week. “I’m most proud of the Chemical Agency,” Bass wrote.
Noted for his work in the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, Bass is often referred to as a world authority on chemical weapons destruction because his entire career was focused on the elimination of chemical weapons beginning with Task Force Eagle in 1969.
“The accomplishments of CMA today are the direct result of the hard work and perseverance that Maj. Gen. Bass put into the program and its inception,” said Lt. Col. Brant D. Hoskins, chief of staff, U.S. Army CBRN School and the ceremony emcee.
Brig. Gen. Stanley Lillie talked about the Chemical Corps community.
“It’s really a family and for my family to honor me like this today, it’s an honor,” he said. Several of Lillie’s immediate family members were present to share in the celebration.
As the U.S. Army Chemical School’s 23rd commandant, the Chemical Corps paid tribute to Lillie’s service to the Corps and named several of his accomplishments including supervising the planning and execution of the repair and rebuilding of all equipment that was brought back with rotating units from Iraq and Afghanistan; his efforts to reacquire proponency for Technical Escort training and doctrine; approval for the initial production of the Stryker NBC Reconnaissance Vehicle and securing funding for the 1st Lt. Terry CBRN Responder Training Facility located on Fort Leonard Wood.
Master Sgt. Richard Robertson’s injuries sustained during special operations missions forced him into retirement after more than 20 years of Army service, but he still serves as an engineering analyst where he provides insights on how combat support systems, like body armor, can be improved. The wheelchair bound honoree is also active with wounded special operators.
“It’s an incredible honor for me to receive this today and I will continue to serve the Corps in any way that I can,” he said.
A nuclear, biological, chemical non-commissioned officer, he served two combat tours as the squadron NBC sergeant and the CBRN operations sergeant in Saudi Arabia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom while assigned to the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment, Fort Bragg, N.C. He was severely wounded during combat on his third tour.
Sgt. 1st Class Frank Cupp, a Tennessee native who lives in Maryland, was unable to attend the ceremony due to failing health but sent a letter read on his behalf.
It said, in part, that his age and health at 87 years has slowed him down. He was only doing his job, he modestly wrote, and someone else may be better suited to receive the recognition, but “only those serving in the 1940’s in the same job would know how dangerous it was.” Now, even with more safety precautions in place, he urged those who work in the CBRNE field to never take it for granted.
Joining the Army at age 17, Cupp was assigned to the 88th Chemical Mortar Battalion during WW II and suffered injuries during the Battle of Peleiu. He was discharged in 1945 only to re-enlist the following year when he was assigned to Edgewood Arsenal to a technical escort detachment. His career entailed the demolition of chemical agents brought back from multiple overseas installations. Following his second honorable discharge he became an Army inspector in the Materials Inspection Division. Cupp continues to work with Army agencies providing information about old munitions, aiding in the cleanup of possible hazards munitions that may still be buried underground and has also provided historic technical escort information.
The four newest Distinguished Members of the Corps join 57 existing members, since its inception in 1991.
|Date Posted:||06.29.2012 14:08|
|Location:||FORT LEONARD WOOD, MO, US|
This work, Chemical Corps inducts Hall of Fame soldiers and honors distinguished members, by LTC Carol McClelland, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.