JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.— Most units decorate their walls
with recruiting posters and policy letters but the 448th Civil
Affairs Battalion proudly shows its own history upon its walls, as
if it were an unearthed time capsule with its once hidden contents
Photos of the 448th's sergeants from a bygone
era, wearing uniforms from decades past, hang alongside excerpts
from commanders diaries on the walls. Passages such as, “A light
noon meal was appreciated by all but caloric intake remained the
same as the quantity of beer consumed offset the decrease in food,”
punctuate the past. Battle rosters from recent deployments list the
Army Reserve Soldiers who answered their nations call. Medals earned
by the unit for the mission exhibited for all to see.
Former 448th Civil Affairs Battalion command sergeant major and unit historian, Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick McDonald, explains nearly a decade of 448th's historical timeline July 18, 2015, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. McDonald played an essential role in generating the timeline. The units' detailed wall of history is filled with various photographs, unit citations and other accolades. McDonald joined the 448th in 1994 where he served for 19 years. McDonald is currently the 440th Civil Affairs Battalion command sergeant major out of Fort. Carson, Colo. (U.S. Army
photo by Capt. Ebony Malloy)
“What you see here are not pictures of Humvees and
helicopters — it's pictures of people, children, markets,
because everything is people oriented,” said Command Sgt.
Maj. Patrick MacDonald, the wall's curator, and former
member of the 448th, located here.
People like Sgt.
Regina Reali and Sgt. Cheyenne Willey, who were killed in
action during a deployment to Baghdad, Iraq, in 2005. A
photo of them taken together with their sacrifice written on
the image serves as a testament to their life and the sacred
place they hold in the memory and history of the unit.
MacDonald smiled when he came up to a photo of a group
of Soldiers from the 1970s.
“Look at this, big hair
and mustaches, you can tell this was a different time and
different standards,” MacDonald said.
Just a few
frames down 1st Sgt. John W. Goodwin, a World War II and
Korean War combat veteran, stands in a photo at parade rest;
now a part of the tapestry of people who have created a
legacy for the 448th.
That legacy, MacDonald pointed
out, is not limited to just civil affairs Soldiers.
“The history of our wall not only shows the history of civil
affairs but also those that supported the units; the people
who drove the trucks, the people who set up the radio
station, and the cooks who supported the unit,” MacDonald
said. “Their history is here as well because the overall
mission can't succeed without the overall support.”
The documents and photos, which now inspire current
Soldiers, were almost tossed out with the trash. MacDonald
said someone had put these relics of a bygone era in a box
and labeled it trash, not understanding its significance.
Instead, thanks to MacDonald, himself a historian,
the 448th can see and read its history. A photo of a Soldier
cutting a log seemed out of place until you read its
caption, “The road to the bivouac site was littered with
fallen timber cut the day before. Two Soldiers, being
lumberjacks, took charge of the situation and cleared the
Like those two Soldiers, MacDonald saw a
situation, historical records being thrown out, and used his
civilian skills to help his unit. Saving this history has
had a direct impact on new Soldiers.
“Just to be a
part of one of those milestones displayed on the wall would
be great,” said Sgt. Brandon Willis, the communications
sergeant with the 448th and a new member of the unit. “You
hear about these extraordinary people [who served in the
unit] and you feel like you can't really connect with them
but then you see them interacting with other people and
there's just something about it where you feel more
Part of the display included State
Proclamations and citations from other units; which helped
tell the story of the 448th as a whole. They outlined
specific accomplishments the unit has done and display state
seals and signatures of the Governor; a small token of
appreciation from people outside the unit.
members of the unit, the wall and its curator deserve their
“This is important because it shows
fellow Soldiers, especially the new ones, our unit has done
things; we have a mission and we can see it on the wall in
photos,” said 1st Sgt. Darren K. Logsdon, Headquarters and
Headquarters Company, 448th Civil Affairs Battalion. “It
means there's a sense of achievement. It makes me feel good
that there's someone in the unit who cared enough and
dedicated their time, so that everyone can see it.”
MacDonald joined the 448th in 1994 and served with them for
19 years. His last position with the unit was as the command
sergeant major. He now is with the 440th Civil Affairs
Battalion, based out of Fort Carson, Colorado, as their
command sergeant major.
By U.S. Army Sgt. Felix Fimbres
Comment on this article