1st AD dedicates its second Iraq war memorial
May 3, 2007
European edition, Thursday, May 3, 2007
WIESBADEN, Germany — The war isn’t finished yet. It’s probably appropriate, then, that neither is the memorial.
More than 2½ years ago, the 1st Armored Division dedicated its first Iraq war memorial, bearing the names of some 130 of the division’s soldiers killed in the war’s first 15 months of fighting.
Maj. Gen. Fred D. Robinson Jr., commander of the 1st Armored Division, dedicated a second memorial here Wednesday. When it is finished, the black granite pyramid will rest alongside the first.
It’s not likely to be done until late summer at the earliest — that’s the soonest the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, is expected to return from its Iraq tour. With its headquarters back in the U.S., the Germany-based brigade has been adopted as part of the 1st AD family.
There are 89 names waiting to be engraved on the new stone. Those names, Robinson said, remind us of what we must do to keep our country free, and the soldiers they represent deserve the nation’s gratitude, respect and debt.
“But more importantly, their sacrifices made clear that we are now the torch bearers of freedom for the world,” Robinson said. He asked that everyone make a solid commitment to remember the valor, service and ultimate sacrifice the fallen soldiers made for their nation.
That’s not a tall order for many of those who attended the ceremony, including many 1st Armored Division soldiers who fought alongside the men whose names will soon be carved in stone.
Capt. Don Sapp commanded Company A, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT during its last yearlong tour in Iraq. Sapp lost two soldiers in Ramadi — Spc. Hai Ming Hsia and Staff Sgt. Tracy Melvin, both of whom deployed twice with the company.
Hsia, by far the best shot in the company, “could probably put three rounds in a dime,” Sapp said.
Melvin, a squad leader, had Army in his veins since childhood, when he started collecting military history books.
“You know you hear about those guys whose blood is green? He was one of those,” Sapp said.
“Sgt. Melvin, that guy,” Sapp said, recalling one of his last memories of his fallen soldier. “He was asking me what he had to do to go to another unit to just continue on and stay down there.”
“My children will come through here, and they’re going to see soldiers that worked for me on this thing, because it’s an enduring thing,” Sapp said. “I look at it as a permanent way to make that guy’s memory immortal.”