By Master Sgt. Andy Yoshimura
200th Military Police Command, Public Affairs
The air was cool and crisp on a peaceful autumn morning at the Military Police Corps’ Regimental Memorial Grove Sept. 23. Service members and families sat silently, and some wept as a wreath was laid in front of the monument to pay tribute to MP Soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice during battle.
The Memorial Grove is a sanctuary for fallen heroes and has a walkway made of thousands of bricks honoring individuals of the MP Corps and entire units. During the tribute, Gold Star families visited their loved ones’ bricks, whose names are etched in black along with a black star signifying that the Soldiers were killed-in-action. Families and friends stayed up to 45 minutes reflecting and sharing stories of the Soldiers.
Brig. Gen. Brian Bisacre, U.S. Military Police School commandant, said the Gold Star families were incredibly grateful, and that seeing them come back to the memorial grove was emotional.
“The families are thankful that we commit to ensure that their loved one is never forgotten,” Bisacre said.
The wreath-laying ceremony was just the beginning of a week-long remembrance and celebration of the MP Corps Regiment’s 78th anniversary. It is one of the youngest branches in the U.S. Army, having been officially established Sept. 26, 1941.
It was founded by Maj. Gen. Harry Bandholtz, who served between World War I and World War II. He established the Military Police school and advocated for a Military Police Corps following World War I.
Approximately 20 years later, the MP Corps was born. Every year since then, Soldiers, retirees, families and friends gather here to spend the week remembering those who bravely served, as well as to celebrate those who contribute to the corps to keep the traditions alive.
“It is important to understand Regimental Week so that we never forget where it all started,” Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bennett said. “Our mission to protect the force dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Soldiers should take the time to understand our history as the story of the past guides us to our future.”
The celebration not only brought together MP Soldiers, but Soldiers from other branches, as well. Family members, retired Soldiers and veterans participated in many activities, and some were recognized for their hard work and accomplishments. Some of the events included a regimental motorcycle ride, trap-shoot contest and the regimental golf tournament at Piney Valley Golf Course.
On day two, approximately 50 spouses experienced a day in the life of an MP Soldier as they rappelled down a 40-foot tower, performed defensive tactics and made a trip to the Criminal Investigation Command School, where they had an opportunity to learn how to dust for fingerprints and examine blood splatter at a crime scene.
Early Wednesday morning, sounds of cadences echoed across the post as approximately 2,000 Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen participated in the Regimental Run led by Bisacre. Family members of the troops also ran the three-mile route.
On Thursday, four retired Soldiers were inducted into the MP Regimental Hall of Fame. Retired Col. Wade Dennis, retired Col. Joel Leson, retired Col. Daniel Quinn and retired 1st Sgt. Ricky Harne will forever be enshrined on the walls of the U.S. Military Police Corps Regimental Museum.
“I am truly honored and humbled,” Harne said. “To be selected to such a prestigious group of men and women who have served our corps is beyond words.”
Harne is also the executive director of the Military Police Regimental Association, which promotes the history and preserves the traditions of the Military Police Corps Regiment while also supporting military police leadership, Soldiers and families Army-wide.
“Realizing there are less than 100 in the Hall of Fame is what makes me realize how much of an honor it is,” Harne added.
Throughout the week, Soldiers, retired and present, were recognized with a prestigious award. The Order of the Marechaussee award distinguishes exceptional dedication, competence, and contribution to the Military Police Corps Regiment over an extended period.
The MPRA officially established the award in 2000. It comes in four levels of accomplishments: steel, gold, silver and bronze.
While all the awards are hard to earn, the gold level is only awarded once a year. A total of six awards were handed out during the week.
Among the six recipients was Peter Shantz, a World War II veteran who served with the 793rd MP Battalion in the European Theater. He received the Steel Marechausse for his actions during the war. The Steel Marechausse is awarded to those with less than 10 years of service with exemplary service to the corps.
On the final day of Regimental Week, as Soldiers, spouses and veterans dressed formally in their evening attire for the Regimental Ball, the Order of the Marechaussee – Gold was announced. The gold award was presented to Mark Farley, the deputy commandant of the U.S. Army Military Police School.
“It is a tremendous honor,” Farley said. “I am honored to receive it. I have been with the regiment for 42 years and I have been part of a large part of the 78 years [of the Corps].”
“I am honored and thankful that God has blessed me with a lifetime of service to the nation and the Army,” Farley added.
Soldiers gathered around the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza for a final memorial dedication — the Regimental Retreat “flowers.”
“We got regimental week right,” Bisacre said. “We should stay committed to get invites out to our Gold Star family members and stay committed to our veterans.”
“The last thing is to honor the regiment during regimental week,” he said. “Pause, take some time, and honor the past, the current and what we know about our future.”
The flag was lowered for the last time during the week, symbolizing and remembering those the nation has lost on the battlefield.
Bisacre, Bennett and Regimental Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Arnold all placed the wreath.