Banquet Address

On September 15, 2000, at the traditional banquet of the 2nd Cml Mortar Bn Assn, Major General John C. Doesburg delivered the after-dinner speech on the occasion of the dedication of the memorial to Those Who Did Not Return. MG Doesburg was the commanding general of the U.S. Army Soldier & Biological Chemical Command, headquartered at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland (formerly known as the Army Chemical Center). His warm and laudatory speech was given ad lib - from his heart - but we are able to print below notes on the highlights of his talk.

Welcome to Edgewood Area, Aberdeen Proving Ground. It is probably more appropriate for me to say "Welcome Home." I am deeply honored and humbled to speak to you tonight. Fifty years ago today your unit departed from the Army Chemical Center here at Edgewood on the way to Korea.

I join you tonight to pay tribute to all the Korean War veterans who sacrificed their lives defending freedom in Korea. But especially to pay tribute to your friends – the soldiers who are listed under The Red Dragon's Korean War Honor Roll. These are the men killed in action, missing in action and later presumed dead, died of wounds received in action, or died while prisoners of war.

Only you know the terrible hardships they endured. You fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the brave people of South Korea to defend their independence, to protect other Asian nations from attack, and to protect our freedom.

In his book, Citizen Soldiers, Stephen Ambrose tried to identify what it was that allowed America to win in war. America's fighting force was made up of citizens of various income levels and ethnic groups. They were trained quickly and sent to fight against professional soldiers.

The decisive factor, Ambrose wrote, was that "At the core, the citizen soldier of the United States knew the difference between right and wrong. And they were unwilling to live in a world where wrong triumphed. So they fought and won, and all of us in this day, and those who are yet to be born, are eternally grateful."

Andy Rooney, a WWII reporter from the Stars and Stripes, once said, "What the Americans, the British, and the Canadians were trying to do was to get back an entire continent that had been taken from its rightful owners, whose citizens had been taken captive. It was one of the most monumentally unselfish things that one group of people ever did for another." This also applies to you and what you did for the Republic of Korea.

The nation and I are eternally grateful for what you did. I have heard many people speak about the great sacrifice and heroism of MSgt Hugh Whitaker. His daughter is here with us tonight.

Your legacy survives today. The 2nd Chemical Battalion was the most asked for unit by the two Army Corps during Operation Desert Storm. The 2nd Chemical Battalion currently protects our war fighters. In the future we will ask them to protect our cities against the use of biological or chemical weapons.

In the future I see the world as not a nice place to live. The world outside the U.S. is in chaos. The U.S., our homeland, is at risk. Your children and grandchildren are at risk, not from nuclear weapons, but from those who, for political, economic, or personal reasons, will use any weapon they can get their hands on.

The soldiers of tomorrow may not be oversees but will be protecting our homeland.

The world of the future will be technology driven. Tomorrow's soldier will be able to see around corners and shoot over walls.

Soldiers on the honor roll will not be forgotten due to your participation tonight and your continued vigilance.

Dragon Soldiers, it has been a great two days. I do not know if you know the impact you have had on Edgewood and the soldiers, stationed here, the last two days.

Thank You!

This speech was published in the October 2000 issue of The Red Dragon,
newsletter of the 2nd Chemical Mortar Battalion Association.

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