Best Day of My Life....
Posted 24 July 2011 - 04:21 PM
Evening Ladies and Gents,
I speak to you tonight not on mother Earth but, from Cloud 9.
Yesterday...and I'm not really sure how hard it is for a civilian let alone a humble WWII living historian to attain one of these is but, for me its is an honor to be awarded one of these for doing what had to be done.
I shall start from the beginning. As you all know I am probably the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division's all-time #1 fan. I support them, love them, am honored to know them, live amongst them, and consider them the finest and most professional soldiers in the U.S. Army today. I know its a bias but, its a genuine bias for the hometown troops. I am proud to call myself an American and I support all of the U.S. military. Thank you to all who have served our great country.
The Deputy Commander
I hadn't even arrived at the parade area when out of a vehicle on Gaston St. stepped the Deputy Commander of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division(Mechanized), BG. Vandal. Quickly realizing who he was I stopped and as a good and dedicated soldier should respectfully rendered him a very smart salute, which he returned and he asked me who I belonged with and as I told him he asked for me to accompany him to the rally point. We talked and he told me they had 700 dogface soldiers in the Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade of which I kind of jokingly replied.."well, 701 now sir..".
He commented that I had a lot of overseas bars and I explained that for a soldier serving from N. Africa all the way through Occupation they'd of been able to attain a total of eight overseas bars. He calmly told me... "I've seen combat and I've been in service for several years but, I don't have nearly that many...."
Once at the rally point he said, he had to go find the Commanding General, thanked me for the escort and the chat, I told him it was my honor. I rendered a salute and we parted ways.
The Commanding General
I tried to find my group which showed up after I did... On my way back from the South end of Forsyth Park I saw the Commanding General standing out in front of his men. I had met MG. Cucolo back on Veteran's Day in November here in Savannah. We hit it off immediately. So, I respectfully walked up to MG. Cucolo and rendered a smart salute to him. We shook hands and started talking, while talking he asked me.."did I give you a challenge coin back on Veteran's Day?".. I said no sir... but, sir we don't do this for the coin's we do this because we respect you and your men, we love this division and we appreciate everything you do for us as American's. We're here for no applause, we here to see that you get the support you need and that the long inbedded traditions of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division are upheld to highest degree of respect and dignity. To see that the past dogfaces as well as the courage displayed today by the dogface soldier is remembered.
He said..."well, here... here is a challenge coin. One for you and your buddy for the outstanding performance in representing the honor and courage of the men both past and those currently serving in the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division." I said, thank you sir. We will cherish them always. I told him.. "you know sir, last Veteran's Day was a highlight of me and my buddy's lives, especially in our time of being living historian's. I told my buddy you realized what just happened Lawton?.." and my buddy replied..." No." For a period of thirty seconds to one minute... we WERE members of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division...I said to my buddy "you do realize we just pass and reviewed in front of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division's commander right?".... MG Cucolo, looked at me smiled and said... You and your men did an outstanding job last November... and on behalf of my self and the men under my command...every time you and your men put the uniform of the dogface soldier on.... YOU ARE ALL members of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division... you have been formally adopted by us.
I said, thank you very much sir, were honored to represent you and your men. I said, well... I still haven't found my group yet so I better go find them and get squared away sir. So, I wish him a safe and wonderful St. Patrick's Day, came to attention and rendered a smart salute.
Later on, as they we're getting ready to enter the parade route for the parade yesterday... I stood at attention. I rendered a salute to MG Cucolo, which he returned and said.." carry on Sergeant." Which was just cool on it's own...I told him don't worry general we'll have that Jeep waiting for you next year. As they stepped off I saluted the Commanding General and the Deputy Commander, the colors and every battalion commander as they stepped off including the Rangers which followed them. I can wholeheartedly say... it WAS the best day of my life... :-* :-*
MG. Anthony Cucolo is a REAL divisional commander, he could have rode in front of his men at his choice but, he marched with them as a fellow dogface. I have a LOT of respect for him and the men under his command as well as everyone serving today. Thank you all. :-* :'(
Here's the coin I was given yesterday... it is gorgeous and yes it's in a coin protector as of today... :-* :-*
Hope everyone enjoyed my small story and quite possibly the best day of my life to date... :-*
"ROCK OF THE MARNE!"
Sgt. James F. Dunigan, III(NCOIC)
U.S. 3RD DIVISION LIVING HISTORY COMPANY
Posted 24 July 2011 - 05:31 PM
Posted 26 July 2011 - 11:00 AM
When I went to Fort Leonard Wood earlier in the year, I was walking through the museum when I was greeted by a soldier who asked me if I was Marion Chard, and presented me with coin. I have it on my desk. A very proud moment for me.
It's nice to have you back and it's even nicer to see how well you are doing. Keep up the great work, soldier!
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"