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Ironhorse troops honor vets, keep cemetery pristine

Email   Print   Share By Staff Sgt. John Couffer, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
August 22, 2013 | News
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Master Sgt. Marvin Walters, a fire support noncommissioned officer with HHT, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div., rakes leaves out of a flower bed at the Central Texas State Veterans Memorial Cemetery Aug. 15, in Killeen. Charles Walden, director of the cemetery, said there is always something to be done to keep the cemetery looking good. Pfc. Paige Pendleton, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
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Sgt. Binh Doan (front), an infantryman assigned to HHT, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div., pulls weeds at the entrance of Central Texas State Veterans Memorial Cemetery Aug. 15 during a unit community service project. Pfc. Paige Pendleton, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, tilled, weeded and raked while sprucing up the grounds of Central Texas State Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Killeen, Aug. 15.

“Our purpose out here is to show our support for our community (and) to show our respect for veterans and our brothers- and sisters-in-arms that have come before us,” said 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Schmitt, a personnel systems management officer with HHT, who coordinated the event. “(It’s a chance) to really kind of take a moment to contemplate our service to our nation and why we’re here today.”

Schmitt said events like this are important because (Soldiers) are connected to those who have served before, and it gives HHT a greater purpose to their role in the military.

Having a history of community service, Schmitt came up with the idea of HHT having its own community service program. She chose this cemetery because of its proximity to Fort Hood.

Schmitt explained she volunteered for the clean-up as a way to tangibly see the good work she and Soldiers do. Good work done by Soldiers every day isn’t easily noticed, but the end results can be, she added.

Schmitt said the cemetery staff was supportive and more than happy to have volunteers.

“We love the volunteers,” Charlie Walden, the director of the cemetery, said. “You can’t run a place like this without good volunteers.”

The cemetery has volunteers for just about every event from Memorial Day to Veteran’s Day and the Fourth of July, and there is always something to do, the director added.

Volunteers washed walls, raked tree wells and pulled weeds around the entranceways to make it look nice.

“It goes with what our position is,” Walden said about having Soldiers volunteer at the Cemetery. “We are a veterans’ cemetery and any veteran (and) any Soldier that is honorably discharged is eligible to be buried here and his family. It’s nice to have (the volunteers) around all the time.”

Simple things the volunteers do, like keeping the cemetery clean, is a way of showing respect to our veterans, Walden said.

Soldiers also said it was a way for them to show their appreciation for the veterans’ service.

“It means a lot to me to give something back,” Sgt. 1st Class William Crawford, a fire support noncommissioned officer assigned to HHT, said. “I came out to give something back to the community not only to the community itself, but to the Soldiers who reside here right now, we owe them a lot.”

Crawford also explained the event is important because it shows support to the families of the cemetery’s residents.

“It’s important for us to be out here today to lead from the front because that is what we’re supposed to be doing … and to show our support to the families of those who’ve fallen before,” Crawford said. “Once again, these individuals, they’re the most important today, it’s all about them.”

Crawford thinks this event shows how Soldiers respect veterans but said a lot more can be done and he will volunteer again.

“If they want to, we’ll make ourselves available to them, even on days where we have quite a few services going on. There’s always something to be done out here, so yes, we’d love to have them anytime they want to come.” Walden said about future volunteer opportunities from HHT.
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