Ave Atque Vale: Hail and Farewell. Welcome Home, and Goodbye.
As promised, the 25Th Infantry Division today honored three fallen soldiers.
Not just any soldiers, but two of their best snipers and a Cavalry Scout, all from the Stryker Brigade.
Some thoughts on the service, the first such Army service I've attended.
Update: 022405 2135 PST: My apologies. I meant no slight, but I left out the names of the other two brave soldiers who were honored at the same time as SGT. Plumondore. They are: SGT. Frank Hernandez, 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment; SPC Clinton Gertson, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (SGT. Plumondore's outfit).
1. They go all out. The ceremony was led by the 25ID commander, who I met later. Two stars and all his staff.
2. Certain features of the service were exceptionally meaningful, such as the "Final Roll Call". The General orders the Command Sergeant Major to take roll. He calls some names of those present, who reply smartly, then calls the first fallen soldier. No answer. Calls again, in a level voice. Again, no answer. Calls the third time, using the soldier's full rank and whole name. No answer. on to the next. Two more unanswered names. CSM reports to the General, who dismisses him. No orders for failing to make the Last Roll Call, so the General marches out.
3. There is a place for rifles in a church. See the attached pictures.
4. The honor guard fired their volley so well that it seemed to be exactly one rifle report only. Couldn't have been done more accurately with electronics.
5. Taps, of course, was perfect. And that after the bugler had stood in the sun with his bugle for well over an hour.
6. Especially poignant was the fact that just across the street from the chapel, and also in the 25ID cantonment area, a joyous "Welcome Home" party was being held for a Division Artillery Battery that had just rotated home out of the war zone. Two "welcomes home", same Infantry Division, two different outcomes.
7. There was considerable MSM coverage of the event. I'll reserve judgment until I see how it came out...
UPDATE: 022505 1115 PST: According to RNS, there was virtually no coverage in the Seattle press. (Expletive Deleted) MSM took up over half the parking space at the Chapel with their NewsCruisers and assorted vehicles, and no coverage. Typical. It's why I cancelled my newpaper subscription.
8. Men and women of the Division just kept coming into the chapel afterwards to pay their respects. They said nothing. I thanked as many of them as I could. I had to thank someone whose eyes I could see.
9. The officers and senior NCOs of the Brigade spared no effort to remind the Plumondore family how valuable an asset Adam had been. There was a receiving line for them, and it lasted over an hour.
10. Invited, and turning out in impressive numbers, were recovering wounded soldiers of the Division. The effect went both ways. They lent an air, at once grim and also hopeful, to the event. They seemed to be very impressed with the ceremony themselves. I could read, in more than one set of eyes: "There, but for the Grace of God, go I."
The following photos are taken without the ceremony participants, as I was informed that such photography was not appropriate.
The catafalques with the rifle, helmet, boots and photo of the fallen soldiers.
The area to the left. Shows Sgt. Plumondore's catafalque and wreaths.
A more vertical shot that takes the whole display in. Note that the US Flag appears to wrap around his rifle.
This photo's a little dark, but some details can still be seen. Note the central catafalque. The boots are fitted with spurs, and the helmet is replaced with the US Cavalry cover, with "Buffalo Soldier" block.
Adam's position again. Note the "Challenge" coins and unit insignia. Some of these were provided by individual soldiers who knew Adam. They are expensive to buy.
A final shot of the wreath. It was easily the best floral display there.
Thank you for taking the time to view this remembrance.
-Major George Schneider, USAF, Retired.