FORT BRAGG, NC – To honor, preserve and build upon our legacy has always been a U.S. Army Special Operations Command priority. As you walk into the headquarters building, you will immediately notice the new, immense digital memorial wall, aptly named the “Hall of Heroes wall,” that exemplifies this priority.
“We put that wall up as a reminder to families, staff and to Soldiers who visit, that this is the cost of what we do,” said Daniel W. Telles, art director, USASOC history office. “I have friends on the wall and it means a lot to me. I’ve seen people interact with the wall and the memorial wall outside, but those things are symbols of respect and honor. It identifies and preserves the sacrifices our guys have made.”
Mark Phillips, USASOC’s Assistant Chief of Staff, shares the sentiment and believes there is an incredible amount of emotion attached to the command’s decision to acquire this technological monument to these brave men and women. This also paves the way for USASOC’s advancement into the digital era.
“You know every day, our Soldiers and our workforce come in and out of the building and I think the words of (Lt. Gen.) Tovo in the memorial service really brought it to the forefront when he said: ‘Really what we honor is the sacrifice of our Soldiers,'” Phillips said.
The digital memorial wall spans the length and height of the foyer — 41 feet from floor to ceiling, with a screen size that is 20 feet high and 12 feet wide.
The digital wall replaced a wrap-around memorial wall in the foyer, which was outdated with limited ability to add names. It is an LED, multi-display, interactive wall where users may find their loved ones with a touch of their fingertip.
“The concept for this started two years ago, after realizing that the previous wall we had in the lobby was full. I just had the idea of digitizing everything, which would allow us to do more for our fallen heroes,” said Patricia Murphy, USASOC G-6 project manager.
One of the advantages of going digital, Murphy said, is that family members, friends, teammates, or battle buddies of any Soldier honored on this wall have the opportunity to add personal photos or video if they wish.
“The previous wall had headshots and a short bio. With this wall, you can have the pictures, bio, and even a video of the fallen hero,” Murphy said. “The idea is to allow family members to reach out to the historian’s office to provide videos or photos of their fallen hero to add to the wall. For the families, it’s more than just a name on a wall, it’s their loved ones’ picture and life story.”
USASOC added seven names to its outdoor memorial wall this past Memorial Day and the same names have been simultaneously added to the new wall in the lobby. The original concept of the wall dates back to 2001 and presents a stark reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by USASOC’s brave men and women for those oppressed.
“The Soldiers whose names and biographies are displayed within the system, that’s really why we come to work every day, it’s for them — to “To remind us of the fact that they and their families have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Phillips said.
Telles said the historian’s office provided content and quality control over the project and will oversee the collection of new content. “My office had done the original wrap-around wall that was there before and for this wall we provided content,” Telles said. “We were pretty involved during the review with the interactivity and the aesthetics of the wall.”
The location of the wall was chosen so that families could have access to the wall at any given time day or night.
“The USASOC lobby is open 24/7, so family members could come in at any time and interact with the wall. Up to three individuals can interact with the wall at a time and it is very intuitive, very user-friendly and it’s touch screen,” Murphy said. “Users can find their fallen hero by name, unit, operation, year, or by location.”
Following USASOC’s annual memorial ceremony, family members were afforded the opportunity to interact with the new wall and find their loved ones honored during the ceremony.
“We’re a family. When you browse the wall you’ll find that a lot of these guys didn’t perish alone, they perished alongside friends and family. You’ll see the dates and realize it was on the same-day,” Telles noted. “I think in our minds we break these down to singular events, but you don’t realize that when that grenade went off, it took our friend but it also took the guys next to him.”
Anyone wishing to add a personal photo or video in tribute to a Soldier honored on USASOC’s wall can contact the USASOC History office at email@example.com.