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
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
"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
Chantal Escotocovers military affairs and can be
reached at 245-0216 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Originally published November 11, 2004 The Leaf Chronicle