Honoring the Past — Preparing for the Future:
By Dawn Arden
Fort Leonard Wood’s U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School celebrated 100 years of Chemical Corps history June 25 through Saturday, joined by several past senior leaders, families and friends of the corps.
Born on the battlefields of World War I as the Chemical Warfare Service and later renamed the Chemical Corps, Dragon Soldiers have supported every conflict, war or named operation that the Army has been involved in, according to Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Henney Hodgkins.
“From the trenches in France, to the sands and the mountains of Afghanistan, Dragon Soldiers continue to deploy around the globe in defense of our nation,” she said.
Brig. Gen. Andy Munera, USACBRNS commandant and 30th chief of chemical, stressed the importance of not only recognizing the service of Soldiers, but civilians as well.
“As we look at the contributions of our Dragon Soldiers for the last 100 years, it’s important to reflect not only on military members but also the civilian workforce that supports us,” Munera said. “If you trace back the history of our corps we probably have a stronger civilian/military relationship than any other branch in the Army, starting in 1918 at our inception when it took that linkage and that nesting of expertise between the military and civilian scientists that is still prevalent today. That’s what still makes us so successful today.”
The week-long celebration began June 25 with special events geared toward giving spouses and family members a chance to experience Army training with both CBRN-specific tasks at the Lt. Terry Facility and virtual training at simulators across the installation.
Official events continued June 26 and 27 with the Chemical Corps Regimental Association Exhibition, allowing visitors a chance to see the latest CBRN-related technology, and the Warfighter Forum, where senior leaders gathered to discuss topics of interest affecting the Chemical Corps.
Dragon Soldiers gathered on Gammon Field in the early hours of June 27 for a two-mile regimental run led by Munera. Soldiers were joined by service members from the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.
Several events were held in celebration of its official birthday June 28, starting with the Sunrise Service in Memorial Grove, where the names of Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, Sgt. Trinidad Martinez-Luis, Spc. William Bailey III and Spc. Chris Workman were added to the Global War on Terrorism Memorial.
“There is no tradition more important than paying honors to those who give everything they have in defense of this country,” Hodgkins said. “We owe all, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, the debt of gratitude, a debt we acknowledge can never be repaid.”
Retired Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Alston, guest speaker for the service, said it is because of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice that we are able to enjoy the freedoms that we do each and every day.
“We’re celebrating individuals who understood what it was not to be selfish but selfless,” Alston said. “Individuals that understood when they donned that uniform that some were going to come back and some weren’t.”
The day continued with the Commandant’s State of the Regiment Address, Sibert Award presentation, Distinguished Member of the Corps and Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, and a cake-cutting ceremony.
“The state of our regiment is strong. It is strong because of the Dragon Soldiers and civilians (here) and those that you represent. The young talent, I have no doubt, will carry on the legacy of the corps, remain competent, trained, ready and on-point for our nation. I am proud to be a Dragon Soldier,” Munera said during his address. “I can tell you from first-hand experience that the young Soldiers, NCOs, warrant officers and officers present in the room today are absolutely phenomenal and ready to take the corps to the next level. They will not only carry on our legacy but will take it to the next level.”
Sibert Award winners for 2018 are Active Duty: 95th CBRN Company, from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; National Guard: 690th CBRN Company, from Mobile, Alabama; and Army Reserve: 342nd CBRN Company, from Urbana, Illinois.
Two individuals were inducted into the Distinguished Member of the Corps: retired Col. Patrick Sharon and retired Lt. Col. Dee Morris.
This year, the regiment posthumously honored four Soldiers from the 81st Chemical Mortar Battalion (Motorized), who were each awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism for their actions during the Allied invasion of Normandy. Honored were Sgt. Raymond Nicoli, Tech 5 Felice Saviano, Pvt. Donald McLaren and Pvt. Benton Porter.
Also taking place on June 28 was a Veterans’ Homecoming, where CBRN veterans were taken on tours of the Lt. Terry Facility and the John B. Mahaffey Museum, dined with Soldiers at the 84th Chemical Battalion and were honored at a Veterans’ Recognition Ceremony.
Munera encouraged Soldiers to get to know the veterans and to take time to learn their stories.
“We’re honored by so many veterans who have joined us this week to honor the past and the lasting legacy that they have left on the regiment,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Peggy Combs, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command chief of staff and guest speaker, thanked the veterans for their service and also encouraged Soldiers to reach out and learn from them.
“You are surrounded by the future of the United States Army Chemical Corps,” she said. “Young Soldiers, look to these veterans and look at the experiences they have had and know that your experience is going to be just as good as theirs. To our veterans, thank you. Thank you for the legacy of excellence that you have left upon our forces, upon this regiment and in this schoolhouse. Soldiers, please thank our veterans, and veterans, please give a bit of advice to our future. Instill your experience and your knowledge on the next generation.”
Finishing out the week were the Green Dragon Ball held Friday evening and the CCRA Golf Scramble held Saturday morning.
More photos from the week’s events can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortleonardwood/albums/72157697876225934.