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Remembering the fallen: DIA’s Patriots Memorial

JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C., July 15, 2019 – “This is a stark reminder of the dangerous missions we conduct for the nation and of the threats we work hard to mitigate … As President Lincoln described on the fields at Gettysburg, ‘this officer gave the last full measure of devotion.’” This statement made by Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr., DIA director, encapsulates the spirit of the Agency’s Patriots Memorial.

Located in the missile lobby at DIA Headquarters, the Patriots Memorial is a way to honor and remember the officers who gave their lives, not just for DIA’s mission, but for the protection of the United States and everything it stands for.

Dedicated by then-DIA director, Lt. Gen. Leonard Perroots, on Dec. 14, 1988, the Patriots Memorial moved to its current location in March 2009. Every aspect of the current memorial is symbolic. In its prominent location, near the Agency creed, DIA employees are reminded of the mission and those who believed in it so much that they paid the ultimate price.

The design

Though the memorial was not originally part of the expansion building’s design, it was intentionally designed to appear as though it had been, offering sense of permanence and belonging. To achieve this goal, the granite used in the memorial is the same granite in several other parts of the building. In contrast to the aluminum used in the lobby, this granite offers an appearance of strength.

Additionally, the backdrop of mahogany offers light and warmth to the memorial. A divergence from the predominantly metal lobby, the wood backdrop highlights the human lives captured on the golden honeycomb-shaped plaques. The six-sided design of the golden medallions displays the shared connection of the fallen officers.

The dedication

With the addition of the Scott Wirtz plaque, there are 26 plaques on the Patriots Memorial, each with a story as meaningful as the next.

Maj. Robert P. Perry was serving as DIA’s assistant Army attaché in Amman, Jordan, when, on June 10, 1970, he was shot by a gunman attempting to enter Perry’s home. Perry’s house was located in an area of Amman that experienced heavy fighting between the Jordan’s army and Palestinian fighters. After the incident, a spokesperson for al Fatah, a Palestinian terrorist organization, took responsibility for the killing. Perry was married with three children.

Celeste M. Brown, Vivienne A. Clark, Dorothy M. Curtiss, Joan K. Pray and Doris J. Watkins all died on April 4, 1975 in the crash of a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy cargo plane during an evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam. They were taking part in Operation Babylift, a mission designed to bring Vietnamese orphans to the U.S. The plane was carrying 250 children, 29 crewmembers and 50 dependents and U.S. embassy personnel when the cargo door locks failed and the door blew off, damaging the hydraulic lines in the plane’s tail and destroying most of the controls. The impact crushed the cargo deck and killed 153 of those aboard, including these five brave women.

Col. Charles R. Ray was shot and killed outside of his Paris apartment by a Lebanese terrorist, Jan. 18, 1982. The terrorist group known as the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction claimed responsibility for the murder. President Ronald Reagan promoted Ray to colonel posthumously on June 3, 1982. He was a distinguished military intelligence officer, decorated Vietnam veteran and husband with two children.

Chief Warrant Officer Robert W. Prescott died in a plane crash, Jan. 21, 1984. Prescott and 10 Guatemalans were aboard a Guatemalan air force plane when it crashed north of Guatemala City, 20 minutes after takeoff. The cargo plane was transporting personnel and supplies to the northern province of Petén on a routine flight when it crashed due to a mechanical failure, leaving no survivors. Prescott was a career U.S. Army intelligence specialist and was married with two children.

Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth D. Welch and Petty Officer 1st Class Michael R. Wagner were killed in the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 20, 1984. A suicide car bomber maneuvered through concrete barricades and gunfire to detonate the vehicle in front of the building, killing at least 23 people. The terrorist group Hezbollah claimed responsibility after the attack. Welch was a career U.S. Army intelligence specialist and was married with two sons.

Capt. William E. Nordeen was driving to work when he was killed by a car bomb detonated by remote control in Greece, June 28, 1988. Nearly 50 pounds of TNT and plastic explosives were hidden in the trunk of a stolen car and bags of cement were stacked on one side of the car to direct the explosion towards Nordeen. The blast hurled his car across the tree-lined street, ramming it into a steel fence and killing him instantly. The next day, the terrorist group 17 November claimed responsibility for the attack. He was serving as a defense and naval attaché at the time of his death. He was married with one daughter.

Judith I. Goldenberg was stabbed to death in a random act of violence in the lobby of her hotel in Cairo, Egypt, July 15, 1996. She was on official temporary duty with the U.S. defense attaché office at the time. The Agency’s Judith I. Goldenberg Award for Excellence was established in her honor and is awarded annually to recognize performance excellence in biographic reporting.

Staff Sgt. Kenneth R. Hobson II was killed in the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 7, 1998. Terrorists detonated a truck bomb behind the embassy building, killing more than 250 people, 12 of whom were Americans. Guards turned away the vehicle when it approached the front of the embassy, but it managed to gain access to an adjacent parking area behind the building, where it detonated. Islamic fundamentalists under the leadership of Osama bin Laden are suspected in the terrorist attack. Hobson was a career U.S. Army intelligence specialist who served tours in the U.S., Germany and the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. He was married with two daughters.

Master Sgt. William W. Bultemeier was killed during a carjacking in Niamey, Niger, Dec. 23, 2000. Bultemeier was leaving a restaurant with an embassy staff member when the attack occurred. He was in Niger serving as the defense attaché system operations coordinator to establish a new defense attaché office in Niger. Officials stated the attack was not politically motivated and appeared to be a random act of violence aimed at the theft of Bultemeier’s four-wheel-drive vehicle. During his career, Bultemeier served as an attack helicopter door gunner in Vietnam; operations coordinator for the U.S. Defense Attaché Offices in Brazil, Finland and Mozambique; civilian with the Department of State at American embassies in Greece, Hungary and Mauritania; and a contractor at the USDAO in Singapore.

Rosa M. Chapa, Sandra N. Foster, Robert J. Hymel, Shelley A. Marshall, Patricia E. Mickley, Charles E. Sabin and Karl W. Teepe were victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

Chapa began her federal career as a clerk-typist at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico and eventually worked for DIA as a senior management officer in the Office of the Deputy Comptroller. During her 31-year career, Chapa received numerous awards and honors, but according to her family, the shining star of her awards was the Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award she received for her time in the Joint Chief of Staff. She was married and had five children.

Foster started working for DIA in 1978 and was recognized throughout her career for consistent outstanding performance. At the time of her death, she was a senior management officer assigned to the Office of the Deputy Comptroller for Force Structure and Management, Office of the Comptroller. She was married and had two stepsons.

Hymel was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force for 24 years, during which time he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal and was the veteran of two campaigns, Vietnam and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Following his retirement, he joined DIA as a senior management officer in the Office of the Comptroller. He had a wife and a daughter.

Marshall joined DIA shortly after graduating college and was working as a senior management officer in the Office of the Comptroller’s at the time of her death. Throughout her career with DIA, Marshall received numerous awards for her distinguished performance. She was married and had two children.

Mickley started her career as a U.S. Air Force civilian for 18 years before moving on to DIA to become a senior financial resources manager in the Office of Deputy Comptroller for Program and Budget, Office of the Comptroller. She was married with one daughter.

Sabin joined DIA as an accountant and went on to become DIA’s senior financial resources expert as a defense intelligence senior level appointee. He received the Director’s Award for Meritorious Service and the Director’s Award for Exceptional Service. He was married and had two sons.

Teepe retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel and joined DIA as a civilian financial resources manager in the Office of the Deputy Comptroller for Program and Budget. He was married and had two children.

In addition to the Patriots Memorial recognition, there is a memorial specifically dedicated to those lost during 9/11 in the garden of DIA Headquarters.

Sgt. Sherwood R. Baker and Sgt. Lawrence A. Roukey were both killed on April 26, 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. They served as members of the security detail for the Iraq Survey Group mobile collection team that was conducting a critical field inspection in an anti-coalition forces area. Under dangerous environmental conditions, Baker and Roukey provided protective security for ISG personnel charged with inspecting a suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons facility. Both soldiers lost their lives when a massive explosion occurred during the inspection. Baker was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart and the first Pennsylvania National Guardsman to be killed in combat since 1945. Roukey was also a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.

Sgt. Don A. Clary and Sgt. 1st Class Clinton L. Wisdom were killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Nov. 8, 2004. Both served as members of a personal security detail for a convoy that included the head of the Iraq Survey Group and several DIA analysts. When a vehicle driven by insurgents charged the ISG convoy, Clary and Wisdom positioned their vehicle between the ISG chief’s car and the approaching vehicle. Both soldiers were killed when the suicide bomber detonated his improvised vehicle-borne explosive device. Because of their heroic actions, none of the other members of the ISG were seriously harmed. They were the first Kansas National Guardsmen killed in combat since the Vietnam War.

IC Agency Memorials

In addition to DIA, the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation honor their employees in a similar way. The NSA’s National Cryptologic Memorial honors the 177 Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and civilian cryptologists who “served in silence” and gave their lives for their mission. The CIA’s Memorial Wall memorializes their 129 fallen, which includes government employees, contractors and those undercover. Their annual memorial ceremony is the only time that the names of those undercover at the time of their passing are read out loud. The FBI’s Wall of Honor remembers 42 agents and a professional staff employee who lost their lives in performance of their duties.

The 26 DIA employees remembered on the Patriots Memorial are important for more than just the work they did for DIA, but for the sacrifice they, alongside 349 other Intelligence Community officers, made for the greater mission of national security and maintaining liberty in the United States. Working for a more secure nation is often a dangerous task, yet instead of running from the threats, these men and women displayed courage and dedication in the face of them.

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