FORT BENNING, Ga. — Eight years after the 3rd Brigade Combat Team dedicated a memorial to its fallen warriors outside the unit's headquarters at Fort Benning, the monument will soon be moving to a new home as the brigade stands down for good.
Part of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, the 3rd Brigade saw its first combat during World War I and was among the U.S. forces that invaded Iraq in 2003. Now the brigade of roughly 4,000 soldiers is scheduled to be shuttered April 15 as budget cuts in Washington force the Army to downsize. In its place will be a battalion of more than 1,000 troops.
But the brigade's soldiers have found a new home for the Fallen Heroes Memorial that stands outside its headquarters at Fort Benning's Kelly Hill. Dedicated in 2008, the monument has pedestals and a wall inscribed with more than 80 names of fallen officers and enlisted soldiers.
Work is under way to move the memorial to the nearby National Infantry Museum located just outside Fort Benning. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports it will join about 30 other monument tributes at the museum's outdoor Walk of Honor.
"I think that is appropriate given the fact that it's really, to me, a national type of monument," said John Hargrove, a Columbus resident and chief executive of Titan Medical, who is leading a community fundraising effort to help move the memorial.
The move is expected to cost $50,000, said Hargrove, whose son once served with the 3rd Brigade. Active duty soldiers are prohibited from publicly raising money for the project.
A concrete pad in the shape of a tear drop has already been poured at the new site for the relocated memorial, said Steve McLaughlin, operations chief for the National Infantry Museum. The final memorial will include a wall in the back, three pedestals and a couple of benches, he said. A dedication has been scheduled for April 14.
"They're going to make it," McLaughlin said. "I talked to the guy who's putting the monument in. He's got the concrete poured up there and he said that they would start cutting on the granite here pretty soon."
With its monuments to infantry units going back to World War I — and including a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, the Walk of Honor has become popular with reunion groups and individual veterans visiting Columbus. The 3rd Combat Brigade's memorial reflects more recent history, with most of the names on it belonging to soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 through 2009.
"Our security officers, they'll find people up there at night just sitting and reflecting," McLaughlin said.