7,500 boots are on display at Fort Bragg to honor US service members killed since 9/11

Unsung Heroes

A young girl reads the name of a deceased service member while visiting a boot laying memorial display at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 19, 2019.

(U.S. Army/Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)

More than 7,500 boots on display at Fort Bragg this month served as a temporary memorial to service members from all branches who have died since 9/11.

The boots — which had the service members' photos and dates of death — were on display for Fort Bragg's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's annual Run, Honor and Remember 5k on May 18 and for the 82nd Airborne Division's run that kicked off All American Week.

"It shows the families the service members are still remembered, honored and not forgotten," said Charlotte Watson, program manager of Fort Bragg's Survivor Outreach Services.


The idea for the display came from similar ones at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The first display at Fort Bragg was in Hedrick Stadium in 2014. It was organized by Fort Bragg's Survivor Outreach Services and Fisher House.

Jonathan Lomax, who was in the Marines for 21 years, was among those who stopped to see the boots and pay his respects on May 17.

Though Lomax knows of Marines who died in combat, he said he hoped he didn't recognize names on the boots as he strolled among the multiple rows on the field at Hedrick Stadium.

"Any loss of life is severe, so all of these are my brothers and sisters,'' Lomax said. "That's the way I look at it."

Memorial at Fort Bragg: 7500 boots to honor the fallen

(U.S. Army/Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)

A collection of boots, each with the photo of a fallen service member, are aligned at memorial display at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 19, 2019


He paused to reflect on what the boots symbolized.

"It means we've lost good soldiers, a lot of good service members fighting for this country," he said. "And this is just recent. It's not even the ones we've lost before (9/11) — a lot of young people."

This was the fourth year that Beth Grimshaw volunteered to help set up the display.

One of the boots represented Dr. Mark Taylor, a lieutenant colonel who Grimshaw worked with at Womack Army Medical Center. He was a surgeon assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division Forward Surgical Team.

Taylor was killed during a rocket attack on March 20, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq.

"I've got some friends' husbands who are out here," said Grimshaw, who paused to reflect on May 17. "I'd like to see this out so they're not forgotten."

Heading into Memorial Day, Watson said the boots were on display to serve as a reflection of the sacrifices that all military branches have made.

"The true meaning of Memorial Day is not picnics and barbecues, though those are great things, the meaning is paying tribute," she said.

———

©2019 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: A Fort Bragg Drop Zone Has Become Hallowed Ground For Some Paratroopers

WATCH NEXT: That Time The Air Force Dropped A Humvee On Fort Bragg

A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.

Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."

Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.

Read More Show Less

The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.

Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.

Read More Show Less

I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.

Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.

Read More Show Less

An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

news
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.

But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.

The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

Read More Show Less