Servicemembers, retirees, Vietnam War veterans and civilians crammed one of Womack Army Medical Center’s dimly lit hallway near the Reilly Road entrance to get a glimpse of the storied painting mounted on the wall covered by a large sheet of parchment paper.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ron Leininger was joined by Col. Brian T. Canfield, WAMC commander along with a few veterans of the Vietnam War present to witness the unveiling of the “Ministries in Vietnam” oil-on-canvas painting by artist Terry Rodgers.
Originally unveiled at the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., in 1988, the painting was not included in the move to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
In November 2011, the old building was vacant and WAMC staff and Leininger went to Washington D.C. to salvage items that could be used in Fort Bragg.
While there, Leininger saw the mural that showed the true connection of religious support for Soldiers during combat and thought that it would be great addition to WAMC.
“It signifies religious support in a combat environment integrating military medicine and religious support on the behalf of Soldiers,” said Leininger.
“You are about to see the unveiling of a very important piece of art thanks to Chaplin Leininger, our Ministry Department and the tactical care team here at Womack Army Medical Center,” said Canfield. “We raised our hand and said we want that here and don’t send it anywhere else now it’s here at WAMC where it should be.”
Canfield recognized members of Linc government services who mounted the painting on the wall and presented each of them with a certificate of achievement. He then called on the veterans to help unveil the painting.
“Let’s start a countdown,” said Canfield. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!”
The large sheet of paper covering the painting was removed revealing the remarkable piece by Rodgers. Canfield then called retired Lt. Col. Father Micheas Langston to say a few words.
Langston, the Womack Catholic chaplain put on an old olive uniform top over his white shirt with the help of Command Sgt. Maj. Michael T. Brooks, the WAMC command sergeant major. The top was a tight fit and most likely fit better back in 1972 when Langston served as a chaplain in Vietnam.
He stood against the painting with his hands folded together as he told the story of his time with 196th light Infantry unit while stationed in Vietnam.
“It was the best unit I was in while on active duty. They took care of each other,” recalled Langston.