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                       Music - "Mansions of the Lord" - Nick Glennie-Smith from 'We Were Soldiers'

 
The Military Police Memorial Grove

Prepared by CPT Sam Reinert

As of June 30, 2014

                  

(Watch video of the Memorial Grove at the bottom of this page)

 
This pictorial history of the Military Police Memorial Grove would not be possible without the assistance of the MP Regimental Association and its publication, The Dragoon, Mr. Andy Watson, past Historian, MP Corps, Ms. Kathy West, current historian, MP Corps and many of the members of the 545th MP Company Association who have given of their time and personal photos freely. I wish to personally thank SSG Warren Sessler for his numerous contributions of time and effort in the maintenance of the memorial Grove and our unit marble stone at that location.

There are older MP veterans who have never seen the MP Memorial Grove or had the opportunity to visit it and some younger MP veterans who have been to the Grove but do not know the entire history behind it. Hopefully, this humble effort at documenting the events that led up to its existence and the subsequent activities the caused it to be moved and enlarged in size and scope will be of interest to all Military Policemen and women.

Many of us have visited the Military Police Memorial Grove or attended a ceremony on its grounds. Some can remember when it was at Fort McClellan, while others have just become acquainted after completing training and attending rites of passage. Although surrounded by traffic, Soldier Training, and the usual activity of a busy Army post, the Grove often remains at peace.

The story of the Grove is similar to the MP School; it involves change and a few moves. In 1968, Colonel Louis Giuffrida, commander of the 4th Advanced Individual Training (AIT) Brigade (Military police), at Fort Gordon, Georgia, recommended that a Memorial be established in honor of military police that had fallen in the line of duty. While the timing suggests that the War in Vietnam was a factor, recognition of MPs lost in World War I, World War II, and Korea was long overdue. A site near the 4th AIT area was designated and, at first, a semi-enclosed wooden structure was built.

 

Original sign to the entrance of the Memorial Grove at Ft Gordon, Georgia 1969

 

The original Military Police memorial Grove was dedicated on 29 June 1969, in a formal ceremony. Colonel Louis Giuffrida provided the welcoming remarks. Major General John Tillson III, Fort Gordon’s Post Commander, provided the dedicatory address, and major General Karl Gustafson, Provost Marshal General of the US Army, accepted the Memorial on behalf of all MPs. The 434th US Army Band, a Choir group, a guitar group, four chaplains and a Rabbi also participated in the service.

After the dedication, the memorial area served to display bronze and aluminum plaques provided by units or individuals. Other than the signage for the 4th AIT BDE, the first unit plaque provided was for the 615th MP Company. It took some time to generate more interest and improve upon the original structure, which would allow for more plaques.




First brick platform for the memorial Grove in 1972 at Fort Benning Georgia


In 1972, a circular brick platform with an additional brick wall was built to replace the wooden memorial grove enclosure, and seating was also expanded for guests. The newer brick version was dedicated in August of 1972, with MG Harley Moore, Fort Gordon’s Post Commander and former Provost Marshal of Vietnam presiding.




MG Moore at the Podium at the Memorial Grove in 1972

 

Expanded seating at the Memorial Grove at Ft Gordon in 1972

 
An additional plaque in honor of the 716th Military Police BN was also dedicated at this time.

In a post-Vietnam world, the Army and the MP School would go through numerous changes. The MP School moved to Fort McClelland from Fort Gordon, and with the move was a desire to keep the Memorial to fallen MPs. Once again, an appropriate wooded area was selected and a brick stage with a rear façade was built. Larger than the platform at Fort Gordon, the new memorial grove stage and wall allowed for the permanent placement of additional unit plaques. The Military Police memorial Grove was rededicated at Fort McClellan on 18 October 1976.

 



New Brick stage at the Memorial Grove at Ft McClellan 1976

 




In September of 1982, the 545th MP Company sent an honor guard with a Plaque for the MP Memorial Grove to Fort McClellan




CPT Louis P. Kernisan, CO 545th MP Company presents the unit plaque to MG John Granger at Fort McClellan

 




New sign to the entrance to the memorial Grove at Ft McClellan 1990

 




One of the last ceremonies held at the Memorial Grove at Ft McClellan in the 1990’s

 




Saying farewell at Fort McClellan in the 1990’s

 

At Fort McClellan, the Military Police Memorial Grove grew in significance and more units provided plaques in honor and in memory of their fellow MPs. A plaque in honor of Brigadier General David Stem, the first Military Police Regimental Commander, who was killed in a plane crash in 1987, was also added to the Memorial. Years passed, and the grove became a prominent feature of the post, prompting other branches of the Army to also remember their fallen Soldiers with a memorial grove. In 1999, although the memorial had found a new home, the time came for the MP School to move again.

Once again a wooded area was selected and a similar but larger brick stage with a rear facade was built. Seating was provided for over 200 visitors. The Military Police Memorial Grove was (see video below) rededicated at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri on 20 September 1999. USAMPS Commandant, Brigadier General, Donald Ryder and Regimental Command Sergeant Major, Harold Burleson presided over the ceremony with Master Sergeant Bruce Bell providing the memorial tribute and dedication. Dedicatory prayers and performances by the 399th Army Band. Ms. Laurie Ewing and Pipe Major Mr. Eric Tavanner (bag pipe) were also featured.

Appropriately located, the current incarnation of the Military Police memorial Grove is next to stonework created by German prisoners of war during World War II as well as the 14th MP BDE training area. Similar to the rites of passage ceremonies, it is a fitting way to connect our past with our newest Soldiers. Despite Military Police School Moves, changes throughout the Army, and conflicts world wide, there still exists a quite grove on a busy Army post.

On 25 September 2008, the Crossed Pistol statue was formally dedicated at the Military Police Regimental Memorial Grove, culminating an endeavor of in-depth research, exacting effort, and exceptional artistic interpretation. Two issues of the MPRA Quarterly were devoted to the history of the original Military Police Pistol insignia, the concept and planning for the Memorial Grove Statue, the creation of the original sculpture and the molding and casting process to create the bronze statue.



The Gateway to the Memorial Grove finished product

 

The statue of the pistols arrived at Fort Leonard Wood on 21 August 2008 and was off loaded immediately as work had begun in earnest to get it erected at the memorial Grove. The artist who designed the pistols accompanied the statue from the foundry to the MP Memorial Grove and stayed with it until it was successfully erected.

 



The pistols are lifted into place

 



Finally a ribbon cutting ceremony




BG Phillips dedicates the Pistols

 

On September 24, 2008 at 1400 hrs a ceremony was held at the Military Police Memorial Grove located at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri and the Goto Stone (see Goto Stone Tab in this web site) was officially turned over to the Regiment by an Honor Guard of 545th MP Company veterans – both active duty and retired. This Honor Guard was commanded by CPT Jerry Koltz who is also a veteran of the 545th MP Company. BG Phillips, the Commandant of the MP School accepted the Goto stone on behalf of the Regiment of Military Police.

 

The Goto Stone rests on the stage in front of the Memorial Wall at the Grove and is covered by an MP Green silk coverlet which has a 1st Cav patch sewn in the center of it which was worn by CPL Floyd Schuhrke at Camp Crawford, Japan. Note the headgear placed on the stage by the unit honor guard as headgear is not worn in the Memorial Grove out of respect.

 

The Honor Guard prepares to march into the Memorial Grove. This is the Old Timers Squad with CPT Koltz following up behind.

 

This is the Active Duty Squad headed up by 1SG Steven Stone marching into the Grove.


The Honor Guard marches up on the stage and takes their places next to their pre placed head gear and behind the Goto Stone which is still covered

 

To begin the ceremony, the Regimental Chaplain, Chaplain Ramsey gave the Invocation

 

CPT Koltz and BG Phillips uncover the Goto Stone

 

The Goto Stone is now uncovered and you will note the ravages of time – the chips on the corners and the large crack down the right side as well as several nicks off the side edges.

 

 

BG Phillips accepts the Goto Stone from CPT Koltz who you will note is wearing an authentic Cavalry Saber

 

BG Phillips presents challenge coins to our Old Timers and chats with SGT Jesse Murrah who both knew SSG Cunningham, the 545th MP we lost (KIA) in Iraq while he was assigned to the 89th MP BDE

 

 

BG Phillips complements CPT Koltz on the appearance of the Honor Guard

 

BG Phillips made several references to his personal experiences with the 545th MP Company who could always be counted on to get the job done and the great MPs assigned to this fine unit.

 

After the Ceremony group photos were taken. This is the Old Timers Squad, from left to right: SGT Jesse Murrah, SGT Warren Sessler and SSG Ira Harrison

 

This is the Active Duty Squad; from left to right: 1SG Steven Stone, SSG John McQueen, SFC Eddie Lagarez, SFC Carrie Killea and SSG Fred Killea

 

 September 20, 2010, the 545th MP Company Old Timers Honor Guard once again visited the MP Memorial Grove. From left to right are: SSG John McQueen, SSG Warren Sessler, SGT Dan Russell, SSG Victor Alvarez and SSG Ira Harrison

 


The 545th MP Company is no stranger to the MP Memorial Grove!

 

A recent addition to the MP memorial Grove is this great Bronze Statue of a WW II era Military Policeman with this plaque installed at its base

 

Military Police Memorial Grove, Fort Lenoard Wood, MO

MP Grove Photos 

MP Grove Photos

 


Sam Reinert
CPT MP USAR (Ret)
Founder
545th Military Police Company Association
626 1/2 South 9th Street
Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA
(765) 962 4627 phone & FAX
http://545thmpassn.com/