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]