DVIDS – News – US Division veterans unveil RIA memorial

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Veterans who have served in conflicts across the world in jungle environments gathered on Wednesday, September 8 to commemorate a division of the military created exclusively for expertise in this environment.

Members of the Americal Division (23rd) were on hand to participate in the unveiling of a commemorative stone slab dedicated to the division, sponsored by the Americal Legacy Foundation. The monument sits along the tree-lined path called the Memorial Walkway, located on the National Cemetery Administration property located on the arsenal.
On hand to attend the unveiling was Walter Lehman, a 97-year-old American World War II veteran, a local resident of West Liberty, Iowa.

With 15 Medal of Honor recipients among its members, the American Division was established in 1942 during World War II in New Caledonia, a French territory comprising dozens of islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. , according to Roger Gilmore, president of the Foundation. It was formed from what was then known as Task Force 6814 and the name “American” was a merger of “Americans in New Caledonia”.

The division has experienced three unique activation periods in military history. According to foundation historian Les Hines, the unit regrouped in Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands, for operations in the jungles of the southwest Pacific during World War II. The next activation was for operations in the jungle environment of the Panama Canal Zone during the Cold War, and the final missions saw the division maneuver through the rugged jungle terrain during the Vietnam War.

In fact, every time the divide has been activated, it has occurred outside of the continental United States. The division has always been given a mission in jungle warfare, which has earned it its special nickname, “Warriors of the Jungle,” Hines said.

The Americal is also the only division in the Army to have a name and not a number. After his training, according to Hines, he was given the division number “23”, but that was only on official documents and no one was ever known to call him that outside of his official capacity.

As a specialized division with unique operational capabilities, the last time the Americal was activated was for the Vietnam War, and was deactivated on November 29, 1971 at Fort Lewis, Wash., Hines said.

Over the years, surviving American veterans have come together and come together to ensure that the bravery and sacrifice of their fellow military members is never forgotten. Some sobering combined statistics of the unit include 4,955 combat kills, 16 missing in action, and 15 prisoners of war.

This was the genesis of the foundation and its current commitment to preserving the legacy of the division through monuments, public media, museum exhibits and scholarship programs, Gilmore said.

“Our mission is to continue to move forward with ongoing initiatives to place monuments in national cemeteries and memorial parks to commemorate the unique contributions of the US division,” he said. “We want these monuments to be a beacon for all and recognize the hard history of our military.”

Col. Heather Carlisle is assigned to US Army Sustainment Command and was a guest speaker at the event. His remarks centered on the importance of honoring the service of veterans and the importance of recognizing their accomplishments, especially those in the corridors of history that risk being overlooked with the natural passage of time. And even that, she reflects, is not enough for all they have given in the defense of our nation.

“Our veterans owe all the recognition and appreciation we have to offer – yet when they are balanced in the balance it cannot help but fall far short of what they have offered us, have given and willingly sacrificed for us, ”she said. “It only remains for us to thank them, remember them and honor them.

“Let us never forget the American division, nor any of the units that served, nor any of the courageous individuals who served there,” she said.

“What is set in stone here should also be carved in our hearts and minds – the everlasting memory of those who we hope have found or will find eternal peace.”

Date taken: 09/16/2021
Date posted: 16.09.2021 12:35
Story ID: 405414
Site: ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois, United States

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