Written by Maria Christina Yager
Blanchfield Army Community Hospital
Fort Campbell, KY – Soldiers, Military Survivors, and other supporters gathered in the Eagle Warrior Memorial Garden at the Warrior Transition Battalion for the ceremony where Blanchfield Army Community Hospital and WTB leaders unveiled a plaque dedicating the garden to WTB’s fallen Soldiers.
“The garden started as a place where Soldiers and families could find peace and reflection. We are rededicating this memorial garden for the memory of the 34 Soldiers who fought to the end with honor and distinction while at the WTB,” said LT. Col. Shawn Butler, WTB commander.
“When Soldiers in transition read this plaque and see the names, it’s a reminder and encouragement to honor those before them and exemplify them as they proceed down their own path at the WTB,” stated Butler.
The plaque in the memorial garden lists the names and commemorates all the fallen warriors from the WTB. Surviving family members for the Soldiers were invited to join in the rededication and connect with their WTB family. WTB staff prepared a breakfast for the families and battalion members before the rededication ceremony.
“It is so nice to see his name and remember him,” said Vina McCauley, whose husband Sgt. Karl G. McCauley lost his battle with cancer in 2012. “The WTB has been so good to us, both when my husband was sick and since he has been gone. They always reach out to us and this plaque means so much to me and his memory.”
During the ceremony, Butler recognized all the surviving spouses and family members in attendance and reiterated his pledge that the WTB and its events will always be open to surviving spouses and family members.
“Our doors are always open to you. When we’re doing events, Gold Star Families will always be invited to participate. That is my pledge to the organization and the families,” said Butler.
Col. Barbara Herrington-Clemens, an Ohio National Guard Soldier at the WTB, and Garry Wells, a shuttle bus driver on post, lent their talents and expertise to make the garden a truly peaceful place for reflection.
“I had just come in to the WTB. I was talking to someone at headquarters and I was told there was a garden. No one had done any spring cleanup and so I just started tinkering around,” said Herrington-Clemens. Wells, who enjoys horticulture, had put some plantings in the garden as a pet project but the memorial garden began to truly blossom when the two connected and rallied the WTB’s involvement.
“They actually had a cleanup day with the battalion where they came and did all the mulching and replanting where some things had died. Garry was our subject matter expert and advised us on which plants to use and such. And then (WTB) Chaplain Myoung Cho took on the plaque.” said Herrington-Clemens. “It was very enjoyable. It was a work of love.”
Through their efforts new life was breathed into the garden. The WTB now has a peaceful place to honor its fallen Soldiers and provide respite for Solders in the fight.