Music - "Mansions of the Lord" - Nick Glennie-Smith from 'We Were Soldiers'
As of June 30, 2014
(Watch video of the Memorial Grove at the bottom of this page)
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.
Expanded seating at the Memorial Grove at Ft Gordon in 1972
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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