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NEWS | Sept. 17, 2015

9/11 ceremony remembers fallen Medical Service Corps officers

AMEDDC&S, HRCoE Public Affairs

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.”