Army Reserve Memorializes Soldier With Center Dedication
(September 21, 2009)
Brig. Gen. James D. Owens, commanding general of
the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, and Carmella
Smathers unveil a memorial plaque memorializing
her son, fallen 352nd Soldier, Capt. John E.
Smathers, at a building dedication ceremony
Sept. 12, at Fort George G. Meade, Md
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, MD (September 15, 2009)
The Army honored
a fallen warrior at a dedication ceremony for the Capt. John E. Smathers U.S.
Army Reserve Center Saturday.
A standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 attended the ceremony. Turhan E.
Robinson, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army; Maj. Gen. David N.
Blackledge, Army assistant deputy chief of staff for mobilization and reserve
affairs; Brig. Gen. Dana Chipman, commander of the Judge Advocate General's
Legal Center and School; Brig. Gen. James D. Owens, commanding general of the
352nd Civil Affairs Command; and Luanne Tano, Smathers' sister, spoke to the
audience of Soldiers, civilians and retirees.
"When you look upon this building, look at it as more than just mere glass,
brick and mortar," Owens said. "It is alive with
men and women perfecting their skills in critical specialties
to the Army and the nation. [It is] a vital
resource where Soldiers work to excel in their
war fighting, develop the leadership skills
necessary to sustain current operations and plan
for future contingencies whenever and wherever
they may arise."
Smathers, a civil affairs officer with the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, died
Feb. 4, 2006 at age 47. He was assigned to the 352nd in January 2003 and
deployed to Iraq with the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion the following March.
During a one-year tour, he served as a civil affairs officer with the battalion
and as the judge advocate officer for the 352nd.
While deployed, Smathers helped stop a bank robbery and assisted in recovering
stolen Iraqi artwork. He survived an ambush and a high-speed automobile crash
during the recovery. He was awarded two Purple Heart medals, four Bronze Star
medals and an Army Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq. His wounds
required seven surgeries after his return from that country and he was
reassigned to the 352nd CACOM.
"If John were speaking today, I know he would thank the U.S. Army Reserve, the
352nd Civil Affairs Command, and the 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion for the
opportunity to serve," Tano said. "John loved life, his family, his military
family and his life in service to our country. He deeply respected and fiercely
protected the right of every individual from any part of the world to live in
freedom. This was the cornerstone of his life."
"John was an inspiration to all who knew him in life and he continues to be an
inspiration for me today," said Blackledge, who commanded the 352nd CACOM during
Smathers' deployment and was injured and medically evacuated with him after an
ambush near Iskandariyah, Iraq, in 2004.
"And with the dedication of this Army Reserve center in his name, he will serve
as an inspiration for generations of Soldiers in the years to come."
Housing 18 units, the facility is the second-largest reserve center under the
99th Regional Support Command, which has responsibility for Reserve units in 13
states along the eastern seaboard stretching from southern Virginia to the
northern tip of Maine.
The Army Reserve completed construction of the center in August 2006 and
occupied it the following January. The 1,800-member center consists of four
buildings on 37 acres and includes a training center, maintenance facility,
heated storage area and an unheated storage area. There is an additional
Deployable Medical System used by 48th Combat Support Hospital.
Article by Army SSgt. Jacob Boyer
Photo by Staff Sgt. Curt Cashour
352nd Civil Affairs Command Public Affairs
Army News Service
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