Thursday, November 11, 2004

Paladin memorial a tribute to four Lancers killed in Iraq
Site includes four trees surrounding monument

Robert Smith/The Leaf-Chronicle

At left, the 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment's Lancer Monument honors all who have given their lives. At right, soldiers with the unit listen as four lancers who were killed Nov. 7, 2003, in Iraq are remembered.

Robert Smith/The Leaf-Chronicle

Michele Rose watches as her 15-month-old daughter, Meghan, touches the flowers on a memorial for her father, Staff Sgt. Scott Rose, before the unveiling of the Lancer Monument.

The Lancer 431 "Paladin" memorial monument was unveiled in front of 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment headquarters at Fort Campbell Wednesday in a ceremony that paid tribute to four soldiers killed in Iraq last year.

Capt. Benedict J. Smith, Chief Warrant Officer Kyran E. Kennedy, Staff Sgt. Paul M. Neff and Staff Sgt. Scott C. Rose were on a mission from Mosul to Tikrit on Nov. 7, 2003, when their UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by insurgents.

Four trees planted in honor of the aviators surround a solid black granite horse head a symbol of the Lancer Battalion since the Vietnam War.

More than 300 soldiers, veterans, friends and family attended the service to hear prayers, music and speeches honoring the soldiers. Organizers wanted to have the ceremony as close to the one-year anniversary of the incident as possible, and many said it was fitting that the unveiling was so close to Veterans Day.

"(These four men) gave their lives so we as Americans can enjoy the blessings of liberty," said Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Donald Galli. "This monument is a reminder to future generations that freedom is not free."

Former 5th battalion commander Lt. Col. Laura Richardson, who left this summer for a job at the Pentagon, said the soldiers shared a love of their jobs. She called the ceremony an honor to veterans of the past, present and future.

"It is the memorial for soldiers by soldiers," said Richardson, who cited the aviator's creed: "We will never leave and never forget our fallen comrades."

Chief Warrant Officer William Murray and others in the battalion raised $6,300 for the monument in September, mostly by auctioning off items donated by country music stars and National Football League players.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bill Griffith became emotional as he remembered his service with the unit in 1969 back when Army helicopter aviation was in its infancy. It was Griffith who designed the Paladin horse symbol based on the 1960s television show "Have Gun Will Travel."

"The memories of those whom war has taken from us should never be forgotten," said Griffith, who traveled from South Carolina and serves with an Air Force reserve unit. "It has been truly an honor to be able to participate in this ceremony."

For the families, the memorial was a reminder of how much people care.

"I think it's wonderful," said Michele Rose, widow of Staff Sgt. Rose. She came with their 15-month-old daughter, Meghan, and much of his family. "I was surprised at the scale of it. The unit has been wonderful, and they've definitely kept me in the loop with what was going on."

Chantal Escotocovers military affairs and can be reached at 245-0216 or by e-mail at

Originally published November 11, 2004 The Leaf Chronicle