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Painting honors local medical officer lost at Pentagon on 9/11

By Jose Rodriguez | Army Medical Department Center & School Public Affairs | May 19, 2018

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

Army Lt. Col. Karen J. Wagner was one of the 125 people killed during the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon in 2001. She was serving at her position of medical personnel officer in the Office of the Army Surgeon General and Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel on that tragic day.

To recognize her service and sacrifice to the U.S. Army and the nation, the headquarters building of the 32nd Medical Brigade at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston is named in her honor. At the entrance to Wagner Hall, her photo is on display, along with a shadow box with her awards.

Now a special painting will be placed on the wall of building 902, created by another person who dedicated his life to service, the late Richard Valdez. The Valdez family recently donated a painting of Wagner to the Soldiers of the 32nd Medical Brigade.

Wagner served 17 years in the Army, growing up in military family in San Antonio, attending school in the Judson Independent School District. A 1984 graduate of the ROTC program at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas, she earned a Master’s in Health Services Administration at the San Antonio campus of Webster University in St. Louis in 1992.

Wagner’s Army postings included serving as adjutant for the 85th Medical Evacuation Hospital at Fort Lee, Va.; executive officer and company commander of Company D in the 187th Medical Battalion at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston; and chief of personnel for the 57th Evacuation Hospital in Wuerzburg, Germany. She also headed the personnel services branch at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

“Remembering the sacrifice of Lt. Col. Wagner is an honor and we want this painting to be seen by everyone,” said Kourtney Valdez, daughter of Richard Valdez.

Valdez and her family were on hand to unveil the portrait of Wagner, along with many of Richard Valdez’s friends and coworkers.

“My father loved painting and the thing he truly loved doing was painting the armed forces of America,” she said. “He wanted to create this painting of Karen Wagner and my family is pleased to donate this painting, and we know it will now go to an amazing home, where it will be here way past all of us.”

Richard Valdez, a realism artist, received his early training in the commercial art arena. He worked as an illustrator/exhibit specialist from 1975 to 1978, and was also chief of graphics for Impact Productions from 1979 to 1985 at JBSA-Lackland. From 1985 to 2015, he was chief of medical graphics for the Electronic Multimedia Imaging Center Branch at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. In 2015, Richard Valdez passed away after a long illness.

“We’re humbled and honored to accept this work of art dedicated in memory of Karen Wagner and on behalf of Mr. Valdez,” said Maj. Gen. Brian C Lein, commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Department Center & School. “I can’t thank the family of Mr. Valdez enough for this painting. This fall, there will be young Soldiers training here that were too young to remember 9/11. This painting will stand as a memory to every single man and women that come here as trainees, so that we never forget.”

This painting is another chance for people to remember Lt. Col. Wagner’s service and sacrifice along with appreciating Valdez’ spirit and artistic talents. The painting can be seen at the 32nd Medical Brigade headquarters at building 902 at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston.