Garryowen legend honored
Revered as one of the toughest schools in the Army, Fort Hood’s Air Assault School was officially renamed in honor of one of the toughest Soldiers to wear the uniform – Command Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley.
"The attributes required to meet the air assault standards define a part of who CSM Plumley was," Command Sgt. Maj. James Light, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division’s senior enlisted advisor, said.
The CSM Basil L. Plumley Air Assault School was unveiled Tuesday in front of Fort Hood officials, the air assault school’s "black hat" instructors, along with Plumley’s daughter, Debbie Funkhouser, and her husband, Darrell.
A highly-decorated Soldier, Plumley served in three wars over the course of his 33-year Army career. While serving in the 1st Airmobile Division, now called 1st Cavalry Division, the airborne combat infantryman helped create what is now known as air assault.
"He was basically testing the concept," Light said. "Can you put Soldiers in helicopters and assault into combat?"
Plumley served as the senior enlisted advisor of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, fighting in the Battle of la Drang with the Garryowen troops during Vietnam. It was the first major battle between the U.S. forces and the North Vietnamese Army, a battle that would make Plumley famous for his actions. After his severely outnumbered unit was ambushed by two regiments full of enemy troops, Plumley led his troops to hold down Landing Zone X-Ray for helicopters to fly in and extract wounded troops.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Plumley is one of the most iconic senior NCOs in Army history," Capt. Stephen Moreno, commander of the CSM Basil L. Plumley Air Assault School, said. "He’s so closely tied to the 1st Cavalry Division, III Corps and Fort Hood, that by naming the school after him, it really brings a sense of ownership. It really ties the Air Assault School to Fort Hood in a really big way"
While Plumley was feared and revered by all who served with him, he became known to a whole new generation of people with the 2002 release of "We Were Soldiers," a war epic detailing the Battle of la Drang. The film was based on the book "We Were Soldiers Once … and Young," written by retired Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and war correspondent Joseph Galloway.
Funkhouser revealed that her dad never spoke about the wars he fought in and rarely cussed, so she was shocked when the movie was released, and filled with profanity. Unlike the Soldiers who feared him, Funkhouser remembers fun times with her dad, even when he embarrassed her with her friends around.
"My dad put an old hat on his head, grabbed my mother’s guitar, had a pipe in his mouth and ran downstairs singing," Funkhouser said, laughing. "I was mortified."
Before the unveiling ceremony, the wives of the 1st Bn., 7th Cav. Div., command team presented Funkhouser with a Tartan scarf, a gift traditionally reserved for wives of senior leaders in the Garryowen family.
As the arch with her dad’s name was unveiled, Funkhouser gasped in awe at the sight, clearly touched by the display.
"I’m so proud and my dad would have been very proud too," Funkhouser said. "He was a great Soldier – a great person. I think a lot of people thought he was real mean, but he was fair … always fair."
Moreno said he hopes every instructor who enters CSM Basil L. Plumley Air Assault School will look up to him and strive to emulate his example.
"He taught and trained Soldiers in their toughest moments," Moreno said, "so we want to use that image to help our instructors be better instructors."
By: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Sentinel News Editor
Medal of Honor recipient
Medal of Honor recipient Army SSG David Bellavia, right, shakes hands with another Medal of Honor recipient, Ret. Col. Walter Joseph Marm Jr. They are at a post-ceremony reception at the White House.
"Joe" Marm served in the Army from 1965 to 1995. On Dec. 19, 1966, he was given the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of la Drang on Nov. 14, 1965 during the Vietnam War.
At the time, he was a second lieutenant and platoon leader of the 2nd Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Calvary Division (Airmobile). He is credited with single-handedly destroying an enemy machine gun position and several of its defenders, suffering severe wounds in the process.
By: Online News
1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment
Federal lawmakers want to name the new VA clinic in St. Augustine after the first man from St. Johns County to be killed in the Vietnam War.
Congressmen John Rutherford and Michael Waltz and Sen. Marco Rubio have introduced legislation to name the clinic, which will be at 207 Stratton Road, after Private First Class Leo C. Chase Jr., according to a news release from the lawmakers. Construction is expected to begin in October.
The bill would designate the clinic as “Leo C. Chase, Jr. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic.’’
"Army Private First Class Leo C. Chase Jr. was killed on Nov. 15, 1965, in the Ia Drang battle dramatized in the book and film, 'We Were Soldiers.' Chase was a rifleman in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry. He flew into landing zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam, near the Cambodian border," according to the release. "The helicopter troops were immediately attacked by thousands of soldiers of the 320th, 33rd, and 66th regiments of the North Vietnamese Army in a battle that lasted four days. Outnumbered nearly ten to one, Chase and the other members of his platoon bravely repulsed many massive ground assaults from the Viet Cong, all the while taking fire from enemy snipers."
By: Online News
2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment
FORT POLK, La. (KALB) - The Combined Troop Clinic at Fort Polk now bears the name of a Vietnam war medic, Specialist Michael Fontaine nearly 50 years after his heroism.
SPC. Michael Fontaine was killed in Vietnam on January 10th, 1969, while treating wounded soldiers under hostile enemy fire.
"Soldiers who walk in will feel his spirit," said Brigadier General Patrick Frank, the installations commanding general at a ribbon cutting on Vietnam Veteran's Day Friday.
Some of SPC. Fontaine's family members, including his oldest brother David Fontaine III, attended the ceremony. "To be here at the ceremony and to see the plaque, which was a lot bigger than I expected it to be...It's a thrill. We're very proud of our brother and delighted to see that he's been honored in such a way."
Fontaine remembers how his younger brother wanted to be like their dad, a Marine who served in World War II. Just shy of 18, SPC. Fontaine couldn't join the Marine Corps, so David said he petitioned his parents to let him join the Army.
On January 10th, 1969 SPC. Fontaine would treat members of his platoon in 2nd battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade (1st Cavalry Division) under hostile fire. Despite the danger, the 18-year-old New Orleans native continued to work until he was eventually killed after shielding a wounded soldier. John 'Butch' Watkins served with Fontaine and remembers the chaos, which he said can still be difficult to talk about.
"When the screaming started and everyone is yelling for the medic and not knowing which way to go, Lieutenant Guillory, who was our Lieutenant at the time, was telling him to stay down and not to go," Watkins said, pausing for a second. "But he had to go."
"He was always bugging us, telling us to take our medicine and drink water...treating snake bites and everything else," Watkins smiled. "Just knowing you had him there. He was easy to talk to. Down to earth, a good guy. Just somebody who could be your friend."
Watkins' old unit, Charlie Company holds annual reunions where he said the Doc's name always comes up.
By: Lydia Magallanes (KALB) Image Source: KALB
3d Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment
The US Army Central has a new leader, Lieutenant General Terry Ferrell. Ferrell was promoted to Lieutenant General just before the ceremony and most recently served as the USCENTCOM chief of staff.
"Everyone in the audience, thank you all for coming," said Ferrell. "I am truly honored and humbled to be here today and joining the U.S. Army Central third Army team. To U.S. Army Central Soldiers, I’m truly excited to be on your team. Without you, U.S. Central wouldn’t be able to do its job. There’s change on the horizon, we know that we’ll adjust to the change. This headquarters is prepared for that and I look forward to the challenges."
Ferrell was commissioned in 1984 as an armor officer upon graduating from Marshall University. His assignments include multiple joint and operational tours, staff assignments at numerous levels, as well as several commands. Highlights include commanding the 3d Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, that was the spearhead and the screening force for the main elements of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division during the Iraq War.
Ferrell's military education includes completion of the Armor Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Combined Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College, and the United States Army War College.
By Jenna Cisneros [wistv.com, Columbia, SC]