FORT HOOD – The VII Corps Desert Storm Veterans Association held a memorial service and tree planting ceremony on Fort Hood Saturday.
This was the first time the gathering of veterans who served with VII Corps during Desert Shield/Desert Storm was held at Fort Hood, said Mark Rado, the association’s president.
“One of the reasons why we came to fort hood for this event is because we felt there was a high concentration of Desert Storm veterans here in the Fort Hood-Killeen area,” said Rado.
An oak tree was planted on the 1st Cavalry Division’s Cooper Field along with an unveiling of a plaque dedicated in honor of the soldiers of the VII Corps lost in Desert Storm.
“Twenty-seven years (ago) our attack began on 24 February, the same day as today,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Frederick M. Franks, who commanded the VII Corps during Desert Storm. “For those we honor and remember today, most of them were younger than 27 years old.”
Franks said the courage, teamwork, discipline, selfless sacrifice and great skills learned at places like Fort Hood, are what led to victory 27 years ago.
“It is truly fitting that we honor and remember them by planting this oak tree for those in our ranks, who in the words of Abraham Lincoln ‘Gave the last full measure of devotion’,” Franks said. “We honor their families as well who endure the continued pain of their loss.”
A bronze engraved plaque was also unveiled on a concrete marker in front of the tree that read: “This tree and memorial honors the soldiers of the VII Corps who gave ‘The last full measure devotion’ as part of the Coalition Forces that liberated Kuwait during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Their Sacrifice enabled the quick defeat of the Iraqi Army and enabled the legitimate government of Kuwait to be restored. They will always be remembered.”
Association members viewed a static display of 1st Cavalry Division vehicles at the 1st Cavalry Division museum following the tree planting ceremony, and then attended a memorial service at held at the Operation Iraqi Freedom Chapel, where retired Lt. Gen. Paul “Butch” Funk Sr. was guest speaker. Funk commanded the 3rd Armored Division during Desert Storm.
During the memorial service, all 111 soldiers from the U.S. and the United Kingdom were read aloud followed by a silent tribute and the playing of taps.