A chance conversation with a stranger and an unexpected, anonymous and sizeable donation triggered Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Stephenson to pursue the creation and funding of a monument for the 313th Military Intelligence Battalion (Airborne).
“The battalion has supported the (XVIII Airborne) Corps, the 82nd, and the 101st since 1944. The Headquarters Company landed on Utah and Omaha beach. The Alpha Company went up Luzon in the Philippines, and then Bravo Company, which was the 82nd MI, jumped in on Sainte-Mère-Église on D-Day. Then of course they were deactivated and we didn’t get back together until 1953,” said Stevenson of the units storied past.
Reactivated in 1953, the then 313th Army Security Agency supported the XVIII Abn. Corps until 1979 when it was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. In 2006, the battalion colors were cased at a ceremony at Simmons Army Airfield Field, and according to Stevenson, the battalion “just faded into history.”
Saturday, in front of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, former members of the 313th MI Bn. (A) and Family attended a dedication ceremony to memorialize the battalion with a monument.
Retired Brig. Gen. Wayne Mike Hall, former battalion commander, drove four hours to attend the dedication ceremony. Hall recalled the moment the battalion’s resources turned to Iraq.
“The battalion deployed elements to Panama … and then about six months later, in June of 1990, I started getting the battalion ready for Iraq. You have to wonder why did I think Iraq because there was nothing on the horizon, but it was an inkling, an intuition. I got everybody working on it … sure enough, in August of 1990 the battalion deployed with the division to Saudi Arabia,” explained Hall.
“Everybody has a unique place in their heart … for the comradery and the kinship and the shared times from being one of a small group throughout the entire Army that were actually airborne and MI,” said Heber D. Felix, intelligence specialist, U.S. Army.
Felix is the former Company C first sergeant for the 313th MIB (A) who served with Hall in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
The battalion served in World War II, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and the Persian Gulf.
Under the monument, which Stevenson designed himself, are unit coins and a list of the battalions fallen heroes.
In tandem with the dedication ceremony, ASOM created a temporary focus exhibit in their lobby.
The exhibit featured a prop blast mug made from a shell casing, cherry helmets, commemorative plates and guidons on loan from the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum.
The ceremony concluded with reminiscing, conversation, refreshments and cake.