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Press Release

25th Infantry Division (Light) & U.S. Army, Hawaii

Public Affairs Office
Kendrick Washington or Ms. Stefanie Gardin
(808) 655-4815 or 655-8729

Release number: 2005-06-06

June 7, 2005

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS- Contributing writer 1LT Lindsay Dane- The recent digging in
front of the division side of Fernandez Hall on Schofield Barracks is so much more than
the average landscaping project. The Tropic Lightning Association is working hard on a
project to honor the Division’s fallen comrades from World War II to present.
Commemorating the warrior spirit throughout the rich history of the 25th Infantry
Division (Light), the Tropic Lightning Association’s new memorial will honor the Division’s
heroes of the past while uniting them with the Soldiers proudly wearing its colors today.
Significant input was received and incorporated from many veterans and members of
the Tropic Lightning Association (TLA) for the memorial.
The first part of the memorial is set to be unveiled June 10, just in time to be shared
with the Division’s Soldiers recently returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and
Operation Enduring Freedom -- and just before the large transformation of the division
and high number of permanent change of station moves typically associated with the
summer months.
The memorial will begin as a single Soldier, depicted in the uniform of today’s Global
War on Terrorism veteran, standing and paying homage and final honors to a fallen
comrade at the sight of a Soldier’s cross.

The model for the single Soldier

The model chosen for the statue was authentic: combat veteran Sgt. James Rivera of
Company A, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, part of the Division’s 3rd Brigade.
Rivera served with the Division as a member of Combined Joint Task Force 76 in OEF.
He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for valor. As well, Rivera was recognized for his
outstanding support in safeguarding coalition forces and for the destruction of enemy
personnel during a conflict on Aug. 12, 2004.
Rivera was awarded the Purple Heart as a result of his injuries as a machine gunner,
which resulted from an improvised explosive device detonation that caused a severe leg
wound and shrapnel wounds to his face.
Rivera had been told he would always walk with a limp after his OEF injuries last
August, but recently he has begun running.

Rivera, 25, has been a member of the 25th ID (L) since July 2002. He was one of many
who answered the call to duty following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, transferring from the Air
National Guard where he had been serving for three years in West Virginia. His lifelong
dream was to become a soldier.

“I always wanted to be a Soldier,” he said. “At first, I joined the Air Force for the
education, but I just really wanted to be in the fight.”
Rivera served as a life support technician before changing his Air Force blues to the
Army infantry’s greens.

“I’m so proud. It’s the least I can do for all the fallen heroes we have,” Rivera said. “It’s
really an honor.
“They call me a hero, but I’m a patriot. The true heroes are the ones that did not make
it back home.”

The concept for the memorial

The original sketches and ideas for the statue showed the GWOT Soldier taking a knee
before the memorial for his lost comrade. However, after receiving input from many
veterans and members of the Tropic Lightning Association, officials decided the Soldier
should be standing in reflection.

The remaining models for the memorial

The second part of the memorial, set to unveil in September 2006, will include the
addition of three Soldier figures to honor Tropic Lightning Soldiers who made the ultimate
sacrifice in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

The modern-day GWOT Soldier will be cast in bronze. The additional figures to be
added in the September ceremony will be cast in pewter-gray metal, similar to the
National Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C.
The effect of the different colors used will depict the past.
Once added, the World War II, Korea and Vietnam Soldiers will each have a hand on
the shoulder of the GWOT Soldier -- as though comforting the Soldier from a pain they
have already known too well.
All of the statues will be life-sized and detailed with great consideration to the uniform
and equipment details for each conflict: The GWOT Soldier will be wearing knee and
elbow pads and a flak vest. The Soldier will even have the clip on the Kevlar for night
vision goggles.

The location of the memorial

The memorial will face the flagpole on Sills Field, so that the gaze of the statues will
carry beyond the fallen comrade symbols and on to the American Flag.
“It’s great because another detail is that from the angle you approach the memorial, it’s
as though you’re walking up right behind these Soldiers while they are taking the time to
honor and reflect on the loss of the comrade,” explained Maj. Antolin San Nicolas, the
deputy division G-5 who played a major role in the coordination that made this idea a
reality at Schofield Barracks.

Veterans of the 25th ID (L) who served in combat during the depicted conflict, or family
members of those who have served in the other three remaining conflicts, who make a
considerable donation to the Tropic Lightning Association’s funding of the memorial
project, can be considered to be immortalized in the statue.

(Editor’s Note: The Tropic Lightning Association has announced that donors can
contribute to the memorial fund by contacting the 25th Infantry Division (Light) Association
at 1-800-953-5812. For more information on the association and its other projects, visit
the Tropic Lightning Association’s Web site at http://www.25thida.com.)

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