Fallen Hero, Veterans Honored
(June 30, 2010)
Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Proctor stand next to Maj. Gen. and Mrs. R. Martin Umbarger at the Proctor Park memorial in Whiteland, Ind., June 19. Umbarger and his wife donated the engraved bench in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Proctor's late son, Sgt. Joseph Proctor, a New Whiteland native who made the ultimate sacrifice, May 3, 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq.
| ||CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. (June 25, 2010) – As the fourth year passes since the heroic death of New Whiteland, Ind., native Sgt. Joseph Proctor, his memory lives on stronger than ever in the hearts of his family, his friends and the Indiana Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger.|
The Third Annual Proctor Park Community Celebration was held at the Whiteland Raceway Park, June 19, where Proctor's family, Umbarger, members of the Indiana Army National Guard and the community spent the afternoon paying homage to their local fallen hero and all those who serve. Rides, races, games, military displays, a hog roast, the National Guard Patriot Chopper built by Orange County Choppers, the Panther Racing National Guard Indy Car and the Indianapolis Pacer's Mascot Boomer were all present to provide entertainment.
Also, the Clark Pleasant Middle School National Jr. Honor Society presented veterans with specially designed coins in recognition of their service.
|“We wanted to bring a sense of community with the main focus being a day for the community to say thank you to our veterans and to give them recognition,” said New Whiteland Town Clerk and Treasurer Maribeth Alspach. “It was a chance to appreciate and honor the men and women who have served or are serving our community.”|
Sgt. Joseph Proctor gave his life in the line of duty, May 3, 2006 in Ramadi, Iraq while on tour with a military transition training team.
This is a dangerous job and would frequently put him in positions where he was isolated with the Iraqi Army, conducting operations without direct support from coalition forces.
Joseph was training Iraqi soldiers on a remote observation post in the Al Anbar province when a volley of accurate enemy mortar rounds made direct hits in and around his position. Hearing the calls of wounded, he immediately grabbed his protective gear and rifle and ran from the concrete cover of the barracks, exposing himself to enemy mortars and small-arms fire to provide aid to his comrades.
As he provided aid to the wounded, a large dump truck packed with explosives penetrated the gate heading for the center of the post with intent to destroy it. He stood his ground, leveled his rifle and fired at the vehicle-borne suicide bomb, killing the driver. The truck bomb detonated short of its target. He was mortally wounded.
Sgt. Joseph Proctor saved the lives of his comrades, sacrificing himself in the process.
For his brave actions that day, he was posthumously awarded the military's fourth highest honor for gallantry, the Silver Star Medal, the first time an Indiana Soldier has been awarded the medal since the Vietnam War.
Today, Proctor Park in New Whiteland stands as a memorial to all who have served.
“We knew that we wanted the monument that told Joe's story but we also wanted to recognize all of our veterans and all of our local heroes that protect our communities,” said Alspach.
Built from more than $125,000 in donations from Whiteland residents, new additions and modifications are continuously made. It has a personalized memorial in honor of Proctor as well as flags flying for each branch of the military. Further into the park are playgrounds for children and a pond stocked with fish. More enhancements are constantly donated by the community.
“It's a sacred place,” said Alspach. “It's a place that, hopefully, families will share with their children that we don't live in a country as wonderful as the United States by chance. We live here because people have paid a price for our freedom, and because people were willing to sacrifice. What we have and what we enjoy should never be taken for granted because in the blink of an eye it could be gone. I think we need to understand the legacy that we have here.”
Umbarger recognizes the Proctor family legacy and has maintained a close bond with them over the years. On the day of the celebration, Maj. Gen. and Mrs. Umbarger visited with Proctor's parents Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Proctor at the Proctor Park Memorial.
The general and his wife personally donated a bench to the memorial in honor of the Proctor family. The two families walked together through the memorial and honored Joseph together.
“The Proctor family inviting us here just means so much to us,” said Umbarger. “They have made such a huge sacrifice. We are just so proud of Sgt. Joe Proctor.”
The two families walked the memorial grounds and reflected.
“It's a very nice addition,” said Lloyd. “People can come here and sit. They can remember, no matter what branch there in. This is for everybody.”
The roots of Joseph Proctor's uncommon sacrifice are evident when looking at Proctor's family. Even after the family's loss of Joseph, his son Joey, his brother Eddie and his nephew Bradley enlisted in the Indiana National Guard and his nephew Eddie Jr. enlisted for active duty in the Army.
Sgt. Eddie Proctor re-enlisted into the Indiana Army National Guard in 2006 after his brother died in combat.
“We're carrying on the name he brought on,” said Eddie. “If a Soldier, a brother can die for his country and earn the Silver Star then I'm glad that we can honor the name and keep it going.”
Military members from the Indiana National Guard, 81st Troop Command and Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center spoke at the event, showing their appreciation for all those who have served.
“To remember is to honor,” said Col. Barry Richmond, deputy commander of Camp Atterbury Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations. “We can all get engaged with our daily lives and we forget the important things. We forget to remember. We don't remember the sacrifices. We don't remember the sacrifices of the families. We have to have events like this to bring us back, to think about the sacrifices the results of which we are blessed with every day.”
Maribeth plans to hold to next year's annual Proctor Park Community Celebration on the Proctor Park grounds.
“There will never be a way to truly thank you for everything our veterans have done for us,” said Alspach. “What has been done in that park is so small, but it is our community's attempt to say thanks.”
|Article and photo by Army Spc. John Crosby|
Camp Atterbury Public Affairs
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