Association to Lead Schofield Memorial Project
Beginning in 2004, the 25th Infantry Division Association took on the largest fund raising project in the history of the organization.
The return of our War on Terror soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq prompted us to welcome them home and thank them for their service by building a monument in honor of their brothers and sisters in arms who have been killed. But the monument took on an even greater meaning by including our fallen comrades from all battles and conflicts that the 25th ID has participated in over its storied history.
Our Association, through the leadership of the division’s then-commanding GEN Eric Olsen and staff, retired GENs Fred Weyand and David Bramlett and Executive Committee members Tom Jones and Dave Garrod, started developing ideas for the monument and the budget required to build it in late September 2004 at our reunion inTucson. It was determined that we would need up to $500,000 to complete this project.
Memorial Fund Goals
The 25th Infantry Division Memorial Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and it was set up to raise donations and awareness to honor the Tropic Lightning Division’s accomplishments and its losses in support of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Global War on Terrorism.
On Thursday, 06 October 2016, during Tropic Lightning week, the female statue was unveiled at Schofield Barracks. The addition of a Female Warrior is in honor of all the women who have served in the 25th during all wars and especially during the Global War on Terror.
Since the Memorial Fund was formed, we have constructed a memorial at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and the National Infantry Museum at Ft. Benning, Georgia. We have also assisted the following 25th units: the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) Spartan Memorial at Fort Richardson, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Memorial at Schofield, and the 1st Brigade Combat Team Memorial at Fort Wainwright.
The Schofield Memorial project was conceived by the commanding officer of the 25th Infantry Division and his staff while stationed in Afghanistan in 2004. MG Eric T. Olson sent word back to Schofield Barracks that he wanted an appropriate memorial to honor the 25th’s Soldiers who were killed in action while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. His staff indicated they wanted this memorial completed by the time the elements of the Division returned from Afghanistan and Iraq in June 2005.
MAJ Anthony San Nicholas was tasked with the job of designing the memorial, finding a sculptor for the statues and a contractor for the base of the monument. In addition MAJ San Nicholas was asked to find the funds needed for this project. This fund raising proved to be the most difficult of his tasks. He quickly found that soliciting Soldiers and the general public by active duty personnel was prohibited while on duty. MAJ San Nicholas went to the 25th Infantry Division Association’s annual reunion in September of 2004 at Tucson, AZ to ask for assistance in raising funds. The Association has a membership of over 4000 Veterans and active duty Soldiers that served with the Division in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the current Global War on Terror (GWOT).
Brief History of the Memorial Fund Projects
The Memorial Fund has completed the Schofield “United by Sacrifice” Memorial and built a replica at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia and assisted the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) Spartan Memorial (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska). The Fund has also constructed a Memorial Brick Courtyard at Schofield which memorializes the sacrifices made by 25th Infantry soldiers. Planning is underway with the Division to complete the first phase of the Courtyard. We are continuing fund raising to cover the costs of maintaining the Memorials which includes semiannual cleaning, waxing, and touching up the statue and bases to ensure a pristine appearance, and completing the Phase One of the Memorial Courtyard.
MAJ Anthony San Nicholas was tasked with the job of creating a design for the memorial, finding a sculptor for the statues and a contractor to build the base of the monument. In addition MAJ San Nicholas was asked to find the funds needed for this project. This fund raising proved to be the most difficult of his tasks. He quickly found that soliciting Soldiers and the general public by active duty personnel was prohibited while on duty. With this realization, MAJ San Nicholas went to the 25th Infantry Division Association’s annual reunion in September of 2004 at Tucson, AZ to ask for assistance in raising funds. The Association has a membership of over 4000 Veterans and active duty Soldiers that served with the Division in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the current Global War on Terror (GWOT).
The leadership of the Association quickly saw the importance of the memorial to the returning Soldiers remembering that the return of Korean and Vietnam Veterans was met with indifference and/or disrespect. It was agreed upon by a unanimous vote to donate $10,000.00 to get the project started. The leadership also suggested that the concept of the memorial be expanded to include honoring of the Division’s other Soldiers from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. With the acceptance of this concept by all parties, the Association agreed to take on the responsibility of fund raising for the entire project.
Tom Jones and Dave Garrod, both Vietnam Veterans and past officers of the Association agreed to co-chair the memorial fund raising committee. In late November of 2004, Jones and Garrod traveled to Schofield Barracks to meet with a potential sculptor and review concepts for the design of the memorial. Also included in these discussions was GEN (R) Fred C. Weyand, who had taken the Division to Vietnam in 1966.
Hawaiian artist Lynn Weiler Liverton, www.lynnliverton.com, was chosen as the sculptor of the Monument. For Liverton, designing and sculpting the monument provided insight into the world of today’s soldiers. “I knew nothing about the Army when I started this project,” she said. “I had to learn as I went. The soldiers are now individuals to me. Each individual is fighting that battle; each individual is sacrificing something.” SGT James R. Rivera who was back at Schofield recovering from wounds suffered in Iraq was the model for the GWOT statue.
Butch Sincock, Executive Director of the Association speaking at the June 2005 dedication of the first phase of the Monument (the GWOT Soldier statue and Soldier’s cross) said of the future statues to be added: “Each will wear the uniform of his war and carry the infantry weapon of his war, and each will proudly wear the Tropic Lightning patch on his shoulder. “They will stand by the soldier we unveil today, for in every sense, today’s soldier does not stand alone.”
Fund raising for the second phase of the monument (the WWII, Korea and Vietnam statues) slowed down in late 2005 after the dedication of the first phase. To jump start the fund raising, the committee decided to sell engraved bricks to go into a courtyard adjacent to the Monument. It was discovered that ceremonies for re-enlistment and promotions were being held at the Monument and that a brick courtyard would be just the thing to accommodate this. The engraved brick sales really took off and were probably inspired even more by an anonymous donor who stepped forward and agreed to match any donations no matter what size up to $150,000.00. Several individual Veterans honored the Soldiers killed in action (KIA) in their units by purchasing an engraved brick for each KIA during that unit’s deployment or during the individual’s tour of duty.
Jones and Garrod went to Schofield in September 2006 prior to the Association’s annual reunion to install the engraved bricks. Bernie Fuller, owner of South Pacific Builders had installed a concrete base and black sand to lay the bricks in. This part of the courtyard construction was donated by Bernie (labor and materials). Bernie’s company had built the base for and landscaped around the first phase of the Monument. This donation was a thank you for that job and a tribute to the Soldiers of the Division.
At a ceremony on 30 September 2006 during the Association’s 57th annual reunion, the completed Schofield Memorial Monument was dedicated and the last three statues were unveiled. Participating in this unveiling was Rodney Barrett, a WWII Veteran, Harry Davis, a Korean Veteran and Ann Cunningham, a Vietnam Veteran nurse. Each unveiled the corresponding statue from their era of warfare. Over 600 members and many Soldiers attended the ceremony. In less than three years the Veterans and Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division were able to raise the funds and complete the Monument. An unparalleled accomplishment in the history of the Division and the Association.
The Memorial Fund is now concentrating its’ efforts on raising additional monies to maintain the Monument and construct a second, duplicate Monument, perhaps on the grounds of the National Museum of the US Army at Ft Belvoir. This would give Veterans, their family and friends much easier access to see the Monument.