Hall of Remembrance Honors Fallen Troops
(January 22, 2010)
|FORT HOOD, Texas, Jan. 19, 2010 – Army Spc. Jonathan Emard, 20, was killed June
4, 2008, in Tikrit, Iraq, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces using
small-arms fire and hand grenades. |
At Fort Hood, his is one of 97 photographs of fallen servicemembers enshrined in
the survivor outreach services program's Hall of Remembrance.
|Military leaders and family members view the 97 photos of fallen soldiers that hang on the walls of the Hall of Remembrance at Fort Hood, Texas, during the official dedication held Jan. 11, 2010. U.S. Army photo
The photos reflect the faces of fallen soldiers and Marines following their
weddings, combat missions or other photo sessions. Some are in uniform, some are
dressed casually, but all are represented the way their families wanted them to
be remembered. |
The hall has room for more than 700 photos, and staff members hope more survivor
families choose to honor their soldiers on the walls of the hall. Whether their
deaths were due to combat, homicide, suicide, training or vehicular accidents,
all of them died while serving on active duty.
The soldiers pictured are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and
sisters whose memories live on not only in the hearts and minds of their loved
ones, but now also in a solemn room here dedicated to their service and in
memory of their sacrifices.
After their son was killed, the Emards were contacted by Fort Hood's survivor
outreach services – known as SOS -- but the family didn't have time to deal with
it. “That first year, there was just too much going on,” said Debbie, Jonathan's
mother. “We were just sort of overloaded.”
Later, the Emards got involved with the Fort Hood SOS program after learning
about the Hall of Remembrance. “We wanted to see what it is all about,” Debbie
said. The Emards liked the idea, so they contacted SOS and submitted a photo.
“It is honoring our son,” Debbie said. “It's a good way to honor him.”
For their submission to the Hall, David and Debbie Emard chose a photo of their
son wearing his uniform. “It's how we wanted him remembered,” the soldier's
The Emards attended the private opening for the hall Dec. 22 and returned for
the official opening Jan. 11, when Jonathan's sister, Jennifer Marler, sang two
original songs she wrote following her brother's death.
Since their initial visit to Fort Hood SOS, the Emard family has become involved
with the program, mostly for shared experiences with other surviving families.
“A lot of times we pick up something from other families,” David said. “It helps
to help others.” For example, they said, they have learned their emotions of
continued grief for their son's loss are normal and are shared by many families
who have lost a soldier.
Widow Denisa Thomas also has found much-needed support and assistance at the SOS
office. Her husband, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Terry Thomas, an Apache
helicopter pilot, was killed Sept. 19, 2006, during a training mission in
In the aftermath of his death, Denisa said, she initially sought assistance for
herself and the couple's two children, now 12 and 10, from a post at Illesheim,
Following a friend who helped her after her husband's death, the German-born
Bosnian came to Fort Hood in July. When she contacted SOS, Denisa said, she
found the information and support she had sought. Her questions were answered,
she found help enrolling her children in school, and found a group of people who
understand her situation and experiences.
“It's the kind of support everybody wishes and hopes for,” she said. “I really
felt taken care of.”
Denisa attends meetings at SOS to share her experiences and listen to others'
stories. “We are all trying to move forward,” she said.
SOS staff members helped Denisa get her children enrolled in school here and
provided a smooth transition for their move from Germany. The program also
provides family life consultant services, financial and survivor benefits
services and support groups to survivors.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors shares office space and resources for
comprehensive care and support to surviving family members. The SOS program
continues to expand as part of the Army Family Covenant, the Army's commitment
to care for families.
“The program is in place and going strong,” said Janeth Lopez, the SOS program
manager. “We are keeping our promise that the families are not forgotten.”
For most surviving families, that is the promise they seek – that their soldier
is remembered and never forgotten. The Hall of Remembrance is for all
active-duty casualties, and for all survivors, Lopez stressed.
“What better way to honor the fallen and their sacrifice?” she asked.
For the Emards, memorials and events have slowed since Jonathan's death, and
David and Debbie have had a chance to absorb the events of the past 18 months,
but the grief process continues with the war and current events.
“You don't get to a point where it stops,” Debbie said.
A bronze statue on a table helps to adorn the Hall of Remembrance, which opened to the public at Fort Hood, Texas, Jan. 11, 2010. U.S. Army photo
By Heather Graham
Fort Hood Sentinel
American Forces Press Service
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