On the eve of the birth of the Military Police Corps 70 years ago, the Army's provost marshal opened a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to remember the 20 MPs who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan this year.
As dignitaries, families, friends, Soldiers and partners from local and federal law-enforcement agencies somberly looked on, Maj. Gen. David E. Quantock placed a wreath next to the memorial which honors the more than 800 military policemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice since America entered World War I.
Before he presented the wreath and before the names of each fallen Soldier was read, Quantock addressed the audience, asking them to never forget the sacrifices the MP Soldiers had made.
"That is why we are here today to never forget," he said. "In 2004-2005, I was a brigade commander in Iraq and during that year I lost 13 Soldiers, 13 Soldiers who quite frankly I remember every day of my life, 13 dog tags that hang off the fireplace at my quarters. I will never forget."
Guest speaker Jeffrey Butler, retired command sergeant major of the Military Police Corps Regiment, followed the general with a message focused on honor, appreciation and care for Soldiers in need following their service.
"Honor our fallen Soldiers and their families and show our appreciation to the men and women in the arena," he said. "To them we say we are proud that our country has Soldiers such as you protecting us -- you are the next-greatest generation and our country is greatly in debt to you and your families -- believe me when I say, you are special."
Butler added that the Noncommissioned Officer Creed states two basic responsibilities -- accomplishment of mission and the welfare of Soldiers, but leading and caring needs to be extended beyond the former boundaries.
"Caring needs to extend past the battles, past the injuries, past the redeployments, past the next assignment and past the period of service with the Army," he said, adding that many Soldiers are battling a variety of visible and not-so-visible injuries.
"Leaders, peers, friends and family all need to be a team of caregivers, counselors and supporters, allowing us to take care of our own," Butler said. "We need to stay engaged after the period of service and sacrifice and continue to show our troops that not only are they Soldiers for life, but also that the Army family is committed to them for their lives."
The Military Police Corps wasn't established until Sept. 26, 1941, but military police Soldiers have been part of the Army in some form since Gen. George Washington created a provost marshal in January 1776.
It was during the 1898 Spanish-American War in the Philippines that provost guards were instrumental in defending Manila from attack while performing law enforcement operations. The term military police was used for the first time to describe Soldiers working in that capacity.
While law enforcement, circulation control and prisoner of war missions are still roles MPs perform, their primary responsibility is combat support.
Following the ceremony in section 55 of Arlington National Cemetery, Quantock, Butler, MP Corps Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Fowler and wounded warrior Sgt. Joseph Wilson of the 289th MP Company presented another wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Article by J.D. Leipold, Army News Service