Memorial Honors Desert Storm's Fallen
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
GREENSBURG, Pa., Feb. 27, 2001 Thirteen Army Reserve soldiers from this small town 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh died a decade ago, and people across America gave what they could to ensure these citizen soldiers are not forgotten.
Some 470,000 active duty U.S. troops served in Operation Desert Storm along with nearly 217,000 reserve component members called to active duty. There were 148 battle deaths and 145 nonbattle deaths. Nearly 470 service members were wounded in action.
Today, a monument stands at the Army Reserve center here to honor some of the citizen soldiers who deployed to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. Private citizens donated money and local contractors furnished materials and labor to create a Desert Storm memorial honoring the 14th Quartermaster Detachment.
"Money for the monument came in from all over," recalled Jack Gordon, 99th Regional Support Command spokesman. "Some people sent an envelope with a handful of small change."
The 14th Quartermaster Detachment Memorial was dedicated Feb. 25, 1992, the first anniversary of an Iraqi Scud missile attack that killed 13 members of the Greensburg water purification unit and wounded 43 others.
The Scud destroyed a makeshift barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, just three days before the fighting ended. In the single deadliest attack on Americans during the Gulf War, the missile killed a total of 28 soldiers and wounded 99. A wreath-laying ceremony here Feb. 25 marked the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.
The names of the Greensburg dead are listed on a bronze plaque on the memorial's back wall. Killed in the attack were Spc. Steven A. Atherton, Spc. John A. Boliver Jr., Sgt. Joseph P. Bongiorni III, Sgt. John T. Boxler, Spc. Beverly S. Clark, Sgt. Alan B. Craver, Spc. Frank S. Keough, Spc. Anthony E. Madison, Spc. Christine L. Mayes, Sgt. Stephen J. Siko, Spc. Thomas G. Stone, Sgt. Frank J. Walls and Spc. Richard V. Wolverton.
The monument faces east toward Saudi Arabia, a permanent reminder of the ultimate sacrifices made for the liberation of Kuwait. It was built on the Reserve center grounds rather than in town, Gordon explained, because everyone wanted something "close to home."
"There was a lot of emotion here when the unit left, as there was in every little community when a reserve unit left for Operation Desert Shield or Storm," he said. "Right after the incident, someone came and put a temporary monument here out of granite blocks. I think that initially generated the idea for it. They wanted it here.
"This is where they left from, and now in bronze, this is where they've returned."
A memorial service is held each year on the anniversary of the tragedy. "Soldiers and families come here both publicly on this special day and then privately on their own," Gordon said.
A horizontal granite slab now serves as the base for three vertical granite stones weighing a total of 12,000 pounds. Atop the center pillar stands a bronze bald eagle 54 inches high with a 48-inch wingspan. The Army Quartermaster Corps emblem is etched on the pillar's front along with a quote by Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Desert Storm commander:
"I have seen in your eyes a fire of determination to get this job done quickly so that we may return to the shore of our great country. My confidence in you is total, our cause is just! Now you must be the thunder and lightning of Desert Storm."
Twin bronze plaques on the front of the right and left stones feature the names of the 69 detachment members who deployed to Saudi Arabia. An etching of a female soldier's hands holding a folded American flag is on the rear of the left stone. A map indicating the location of Dhahran and Kuwait is etched on the right stone.
An actual-size bronze casting of the boots, M-16 rifle and helmet, symbolic of the fallen soldier, stands to the left of the monument.
To the right are life-size bronze figures of a man and a woman in desert battle dress uniforms, the work of Pittsburgh sculptor Susan Wagner. At the Feb. 25 ceremony, she said her models were an Army Reserve soldier and the best friend of one of the women killed in Dhahran.
After considering several poses, Wagner said, the male soldier kneeled and she knew she had the solemn moment she was seeking to portray. She then asked the woman to stand beside the man and to place her hand on his shoulder to symbolize their mutual support.
Wagner, who has sculpted statues of baseball stars Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, has also been commissioned to do a 12-foot-tall World War II soldier for the 99th Regional Support Command's new headquarters, now under construction near Pittsburgh.
A bronze plaque with the names of all 28 soldiers killed in the Scud attack is on the wall surrounding the monument. From three poles fly the U.S., Pennsylvania and U.S. Army flags. Thirteen hemlocks, the state tree, stand behind the monument, a living tribute to the 13 fallen Greensburg soldiers.