Three West Point graduates from the class of 1990, two of them former 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team soldiers, presented a $15,000 donation to the Raider Memorial fund Friday, following the brigade’s change-of-command ceremony.
Tony Gaines, Jon Lundstedt and Jeff Evans, said the donation was made in memory of their classmate, 1st Lt. Bill Burke, and Burke’s platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Demitroff.
Burke and Demitroff were killed in a vehicle accident in 1993, while training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Gaines said.
Burke’s GPS apparatus was faulty, Gaines explained, resulting in four Army vehicles flipping over into a wadi in the Mojave Desert. Burke and Demitroff died in the accident, and several other 1st Brigade soldiers were badly injured, he said.
In addition to the 107 1st Brigade soldiers killed in combat in the war in Iraq, the memorial will honor Raider soldiers who died in the line of duty outside of the conflict, Gaines said.
Fort Stewart leaders broke ground on the memorial in mid-December 2009, just before the 1st Brigade deployed to Iraq.
Raider Memorial Chairwoman Laura Chandler Rittenhouse said the memorial should be completed in March. She is married to 1st Brigade officer Maj. Michael Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse said the memorial committee is still short of its $100,000 fundraising goal.
The Raider Memorial is on the grounds of the 1st Brigade’s headquarters, across from Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart.
To donate, contact Rittenhouse by mail: Laura Chandler Rittenhouse, Raider Brigade Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial Chairman, P.O. Box 4050, Fort Stewart, GA, 31315. Or, call 912-445-0186. For more information, visit www.raiderbrigadememorial.com.