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New park remembers the fallen of Fort Lewis

Post by Scott Fontaine on July 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
July 16, 2009 3:55 pm

The sight of their son’s name etched in granite always brings a wave of emotion to Dan and Elfriede Plumondore. Thursday was no different.

At a somber ceremony dedicating Fort Lewis’ Memorial Park, the Gresham, Ore., couple saw old friends and discussed old memories. It’s been like that every time they’ve visited Fort Lewis since their son, Sgt. Adam J. Plumondore, was killed in a car bomb explosion in Mosul, Iraq, in 2005.

But Thursday’s ceremony reminded the Plumondores of one the military’s most sacred vows.

“It just a reminder that they never forget about their fallen,” Elfriede said. “This park, this setting – it’s absolutely beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It’s an honor.”

The monument for their son’s unit – 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division – is one of two set among slight rolling hills in the new 4.13-acre park. The other, honoring the dead from 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, sits across the park and was dedicated in a private ceremony earlier in the day.

Units who already have memorials on post will be invited to move them to the park, and all future memorials will be built there.

Flags on post were flown at half-staff Thursday in honor of those fallen. The commander of 4th Brigade and the former deputy commander of 1st Brigade delivered speeches, as did First Gentleman Mike Gregoire and garrison commander Col. Cynthia Murphy. Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace,” the band played “Taps” and soldiers offered a rifle salute.

“There is no more greater responsibility in those in uniform than to remember and honor the sacrifice of men and women who gave their lives in service to this nation,” garrison Murphy said during the ceremony, her voice choked with emotion at times.

Construction on the $731,000 park began March 22 and took about two months.

Next to Memorial Park sits the site of the planned Reflection Park, a six-acre site that will memorialize service members killed in conflicts dating back to World War I. The privately funded park is still in its fundraising stage.

Forty-two names adorn the granite memorial for 4th Brigade; 37 of those were killed on the unit’s 2007-08 deployment as part of the troop surge. Almost 5,000 troops from the unit are set to leave for Iraq in about six weeks, and the timing of the dedication was no accident, the brigade commander said.

“I wanted to make sure my soldiers who are serving and who lost brothers in combat had a chance to see and that we don’t forget the sacrifices of these great soldiers, these great Americans,” Col. John Norris said. “For them, it’s a chance to say, ‘We got it,’ and they can move forward. … It allows them to move them to the next mission.”

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