A monument to the 70th was dedicated at Fort
Benning on October 6th, 1997. What follows is a picture of the monument, a
speech by Don Docken, read at the memorial service, Ed Arnold's
Homily and Frank Ellis's
General Franks || General
Blanchard || General
|| General Mataxis || Mr.
Most of us have memories of comrades who gave
the supreme sacrifice in our relatively short but furious action in
Alsace-Lorraine. Let me share with you a couple of my memories that have been
permanently etched in my mind.
He was a handsome young man with Spanish
ancestry. Francis Hetzel was his name, my friend in the 1st Platoon, Co. C,
275th Inf. He was a quiet, friendly soldier with fine features and black hair.
On Feb. 17, 1945 he was suddenly cut down by enemy machine gun fire as we were
liberating a village by name of Lixing. I remember him! As he was lying there in
death our platoon moved forward angrily shooting in every direction, advancing
through the woods. Bill Rorabaugh, a fellow comrade, realized that the platoon
was running short of ammunition, so he went back, knelt down beside Fran, and
took his bandoleer. Fran not only gave his life, he gave another gift, his last
ammunition. Bill knelt beside him in deep sadness, and then went on ahead. Bill
remembers him! Another friend, Walter Szyszka, was a family man with a Polish
background. He had five children back in the states. During one night a terrific
barrage fell on our position. A small shell fragment came my way giving me a
million-dollar wound, but Walter got a gut-full of shrapnel. I can still hear
his cries of agony before he died. I remember him! Many of you could recount
similar stories and memories.
The Monument dedicated at Ft.
Benning on October 6th, 1997. It stands in front of the Infantry Museum.
However, what does it really mean to remember
our fallen comrades. It means, of course, a Memorial Service such as this with
our Book of Honor brought forward listing the names of our combat dead. It
means, of course, the erection of our beautiful monument which we will dedicate
tomorrow. We remember that they died for the cause of freedom and justice. They
were cut down in the budding flower of their youth away from home in a foreign
land. We remember them!
However, there is more to our remembering then
just words, ceremonies, and monuments. Our fallen comrades speak to us from
their graves asking us to do our part in making our community, our country, and
our world a better place to live. They ask to to go beyond words and ceremonies
and be leaders of God-fearing families, to stand up and speak out for high moral
standards in our communities, and to be involved and participate in our
elections. They ask us to not be afraid to fight evil and corruption. They
remind us that evil triumphs when good people do nothing. They ask us not to
retire from the arena of life, even at our age, but to keep working for peace
and justice wherever we live and as long as we live. They remind us that we pass
this way but once; any good we can do, do it now.
On the left Bill
Pierce, Blazer veteran and webmaster Steve Dixon on the right.
I think that remembering is much more than Memorial services and monuments, as
necessary and good as they are. It means to be a light in the world of darkness.
I means keeping up the good fight of faith to our dying day. I know that the
70th veterans have done a lot of this kind of remembering. You have been leaders
in establishing God-fearing homes. You have been influential leaders in many
different fields. Your actions and examples have made difference for good in
many communities throughout our nation, and a few even in the high councils of
We can be proud of our military service and more
than proud of our contributions as citizens of this great country. The voices
from the graves thank you and tell you to keep it up. I have lived long enough
to know that even small acts and words can make a difference. Many of you may
never know how effective you have been. We can make a difference. Besides that,
we are obligated to our fallen comrades to seek to continue make that
difference. The poet Archibold MacLeish said it well. Let me conclude with his
The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses.
(who has not heard them?)
They have a silence that speaks for them at
And when the clocks count,
We have given our lives,
But until it is finished no one can know what
our lives gave.
our deaths are not ours,
They are yours, They will mean what you make them.
Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace
and new hope,
Or for nothing,
We cannot say,
It is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths,
Give them meaning, Give them an end to war and a true peace,
Give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards.
Give them their meaning.
We are young , they say,
We have died,
L. Donald Docken
Memorial Service, Oct. 5, 1997
70th Infantry Division Monument Dedication
Ft. Benning, Georgia
P R O C L A M A T I O N
Inasmuch as residents of Forbach, France erected a monument honoring the
70th Infantry Division, in commemoration of their liberation and the 50th
Anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, our Association has
constructed a monument of similar design and placed it here on Sacrifice
As this dedication ceremony convenes, It is Hereby Proclaimed that this
monument shall, forever, officially honor all veterans, who served in any
branch or support element of the 70th Infantry Division, and it shall also
acknowledge the individual soldier's contributions to the Allied Victory in
Written by Frank Ellis (Medics/274) and delivered by him at the dedication
ceremony on 6 October 1997.
Trailblazers and family members at
the Dedication. Photo by Bill Pierce C/275.
by Ed Arnold
We are living in a strange world this weekend.
We are surrounded by people who wear strange clothes. They speak a language that
resembles ours but often leaves vast gaps of comprehension. Their work is not
like ours. They make no product, grow no crop. They offer no obvious services we
might use in our homes, our farms or our businesses. They not only live in an
un-democratic society of sharply defined class and rank, they wear conspicuous
insignia to proclaim their status. We are in the world of the Army. It is
confusing; it is bewildering. And this, remember, is an Army at peace.
The world of the Army in wartime was even more
bewildering-especially for 15,000 young Americans who were taken from their
homes to become actors in the greatest drama of the century, of many
centuries...some 50 years ago when the 70th Infantry Division was organized.
They came from mammoth Manhattan; they came from tiny Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
They had lived on the Pacific bluffs of California and the Atlantic headlands of
Maine. Home was the wheat farms of the nation's heartland; home was the bayou
country of Louisiana and Mississippi. Many of them had never been outside their
State before; some had not even been out of their county. They were far more
bewildered then than we are today.
They were corn farmers and they were symphony
musicians. They were high school dropouts and they were law students. They were
engaged to their next-door sweetheart and one was the husband of a Hollywood
movie star. They were sand-lot soft-ballers and one was an All- American
football player. They attended the synagogue on Friday evening. Saturday
services with Seventh Day Adventists and Catholics or Sabbath morning worship
with Latter Day Saints or Methodists or Episcopalians. They sang exhilarating
Baptist Gospel hymns and Bach's majestic Lutheran anthems.
They had dreams. They would take over the farm
that had been in their family for a century. They would leave their rusting old
mill towns in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and practice medicine or sell bonds
in the canyon streets of Chicago. They would depart cotton gins and auto
assembly lines to soar in skies where Lucky Lindy had flown. They would find the
one girl whom God had created just for them and, with her, build a family and a
shining future. Whether their goals were lofty or humble, the world was theirs
to take. For they were young and to the young, as to the Lord Almighty, nothing
But those dreams were shadowed by the surreal
existence a world war imposes on soldiers. Their fore-shortened goal now was to
endure the bewildering gauntlet of basic training. Slowly they learned that
things could be done the right way or the Army way. They learned the new
language of the Army - and added a few phrases of their own: Hubba-hubba! Oh my
aching back! Blow it out your barracks bag and, of course, Snaa-fu! Those bright
dreams, now shadowed, were totally darkened in the incredibly bewildering world
of combat. Forget plans for the next 50 years. Now their best hope was to endure
the next 50 yards of a mine field, the next 50-degree traverse of a machine gun
nest, the next 50 seconds of hellfire of 88s and screaming meemies. And there
some 700 young lives suddenly ended in the ultimate bewilderment of KIA-killed
in action. Their last, incredulous, plaintive bewilderment was: "But I am young,
I am immortal. How can this be happening to me?" With them died other dreams -
of new brides, of young fiancées, of younger brides, of siblings, of suddenly
aged parents. Shangri-La became a white cross at St. Avold, or Topeka or Smith's
There they lie today-our comrades, our
brothers-in-arms. And we mourn for them. Often we weep in our hearts, sometimes
in our handkerchiefs. We weep for them and we weep ourselves. For as they were
deprived of dreams, we were deprived of lover, of husband, of father, of
brother, of son and of friend. So we grieve. Yet we are proud in our grief. When
the Star Spangled Banner is played we know it is played for them. For it was
because of them that that star spangled flag yet flies over us and assures those
cherished freedoms that define America. As the tears glide down our cheeks, our
shoulders rise in pride. In pride over lives so meager in years but so rich in
brave deeds. We cannot adequately say thank you to them. So we do our small
best; a raise a stone to their eternal memory.
O, you young warriors! We old warriors salute
you. We salute you with public rituals. We salute you with solitary prayers. We
salute you with a great boulder fashioned into the shape of the axe-head we wore
so proudly, you wore so gallantly. Young brothers, sleep well.