FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
The names of Lt. Col. Karen Wagner, Lt. Col. David Cabrera,
Maj. Charles Soltes, Capt. John Teal, 1st Lt. Ashley White-Stumpf and 2nd Lt.
Emily Perez were read aloud by Brig. Gen. Scott Dingle as he asked for a moment
of silence at the U.S. Army Medical
Service Corps 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony honoring the six Medical Service Corps
officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice as a result of the terrorist attack on
Sept. 11, 2001 and in support of combat operations.
Military leaders, officers, noncommissioned officers,
Soldiers, civilians and friends of the Fort Sam Houston medical community
gathered on the hallowed grounds of the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery
Sept. 11 to pay homage and honor the six medical officers in a ceremony that
included a wreath presentation and the playing of taps by Staff Sgt. James
Walker, a member of the 323rd Army Band.
Dingle, the U.S. Army Medical Command deputy chief of staff
for operations, consultant to the Army Surgeon General and guest speaker at the
ceremony, quoted Gen. Douglas MacArthur who once said, “‘No one desires peace
as much as the Soldier, for it is he who must pay the greatest penalty or
sacrifice in war.’” It is the Soldier who sacrifices their lives in combat to
support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all
enemies foreign and domestic.
“We sing about this same sacrifice in the Army song when we
say, count the brave, count the true who have fought to victory; the first to
fight for the right; and fighting till the battle’s won,” Dingle added. “It all
speaks to a sacrifice, an unspoken commitment to our nation that at times
results in the ultimate sacrifice that our six medical corps officers paid when
they died while serving their country.”
Wagner was killed the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 while
working at the Pentagon, making her one
of the first casualties of war. During
her 17 years in uniform, she rose to the position of medical personnel officer
in the Office of the Army Surgeon General and Deputy Chief of Staff for
Personnel and she even found time to become an avid cook.
Teal was killed Oct. 23, 2003, during Operation Iraqi
Freedom while serving with 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, out of Fort
Hood, Texas. Teal was a 1994 graduate of Virginia Military Institute. His
mother, Emmie Teal, said her son spent his final days helping sick children and
meeting with Iraqi citizens.
Soltes was killed Oct. 13, 2004, during Operation Iraqi
Freedom. A 1990 graduate of Norwich University, Soltes joined the Army Reserves
in the same year and was assigned to the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion based
out of Upland, Calif. Soltes worked as an optometrist and as a preventive
health specialist with the battalion’s public health team.
Perez was killed Sept. 12, 2006, during Operation Iraqi
Freedom. She was born in Heidelberg, Germany to a military family and was a
graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
White-Stumpf was killed while serving in Kandahar Province,
Afghanistan Oct. 22, 2011. A 2009 graduate of Kent State University, she was
assigned as an evacuation platoon leader to the 230th Brigade Support
Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard. She
later volunteered to serve as a member of the cultural support team attached to
a Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan.
Cabrera died Oct. 29, 2011, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Cabrera,
a 1992 graduate of Texas A&M University, earned a master’s of science
degree in social work and completed his Ph.D. at the Catholic University of
America, in Washington, D.C. and soon after, joined the U.S. Army as a medical
service corps officer.
When asked why we have this type of ceremony, Sgt. 1st Class
Marian Niemotko said, “It is to remember the ones that have fallen in either
defense of our country or by serving our country in the military.”
Chief Warrant Officer 5 John Burgess, chief of clinical
engineering at the U.S. Army Medical Command, said he met Wagner while in Washington D.C. and said it is important
to continue to have these ceremonies.
“It is important because it
is about remembering not only the sacrifices that these folks made, but the
sacrifices that our other folks have stepped up to,” Burgess said. “It is good
for us to remember, good for us to pass on that legacy, if you will, or those
thoughts to those junior Soldiers coming up that don’t necessarily remember. We
are here to remember not just these folks’ sacrifices, but all sacrifices.”