The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley hosted a commemoration ceremony for 1ID Medal of Honor recipients and its final Big Red One Year of Honor Leadership Professional Development panel on Nov. 10 at Fort Riley, Kansas.

The commemoration ceremony honored seven Medal of Honor recipients: Lt. Col. Charles Rogers, 1st Battalion, 5th Artillery; Spc. Fourth Class Robert Stryker, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry; and Capt. Euripides Rubio, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, for their actions during the Vietnam War; Tech. Sgt. Jake Lindsey, 16th Infantry; Sgt. Alfred Nietzel, 16th Infantry; and Private 1st Class Francis McGraw, 26th Infantry for their actions during WWII, and Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, for his actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Each Medal of Honor recipient had a street memorialized in their honor, and by December, Fort Riley will have renamed 37 streets on post in recognition of each of the Division’s Medal of Honor recipients.

“Our theme for this month’s commemoration is virtue and serving others,” said Maj. Gen. D.A. Sims, the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general. “Each of the seven recipients of the Medal of Honor we recognize this month epitomized that value by putting themselves at extraordinary risk for the sake of their fellow Soldiers, often at the cost of their own lives. Virtue comes in many forms, and today our leader development panel consists of five incredible individuals who also serve others before themselves.”

The panel consisted of Frederick Robert “Bob” Bramlage, president of the R2B4 Bramlage Foundation Board; Theresa Bramlage, program director of the R2B4 Bramlage Foundation, treasurer of the board and spouse of Bob Bramlage; Chef Robert Irvine, Robert Irvine Foundation and entrepreneur, host of Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible, and philanthropic supporter of the nation’s military; Dr. Steven Short, a board certified pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine physician; and Chris Williams; a classically trained chef and founder of Lucille’s 1913. Lt. Col. Alex Tignor, the 1st Infantry Division public affairs officer, moderated the panel.

Each panelist, considered philanthropists in their own right, agreed that giving back and serving others had become a vital part of their lives.

Bob Bramlage, who after a tragic family accident evolved the Bramlage Family Foundation into the R2B4 Bramlage Family Foundation to honor Ron, Roxanne, Becky, Brandon, Boston and Beau, recalled a time where he was able to witness his philanthropy have a positive impact on local community members.

“I was at the athletic training center where we were doing an after-school program with young children, and it was great to see those children having such a good time,” said Bramlage. “One girl came up to me and asked, ‘Do you own this place?’ I said, ‘Kinda,’ and she gave me a big hug around my legs and said, ‘Thank you for letting us come here, we have so much fun,’ and it’s those kinds of returns that just fill your heart.”

Theresa Bramlage, who was born at Fort Riley and is a former banker and investment office manager, talked about what being able to give back to the local community has done for her.

“It’s been a healing process for [Bob and me] to lose so much, so when you give back it does help with the healing,” said Bramlage. “Every day I walk into my office there are pictures of my family. Some days I think, ‘Why am I spending so many hours volunteering?’ and then I see them, and they’re my motivation.”

Williams, son of a Vietnam War veteran and great-grandson of culinary innovator and entrepreneur Lucille Bishop Smith, spoke about how he used the power of food and cuisine to bring people together.

“It’s about helping those who aren’t necessarily forgotten about, but those who are never considered,” said Williams. “Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve kept 99% of our team. No one is getting paid to do this work; we make enough to keep the non-profit running, but there’s something about breaking bread together that’s ancient.”

Short, an artist and Kansas native who answered the call to assist at a New York hospital during the outbreak and peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, through teared eyes, recalled the experience of caring for a patient who was a fellow artist that died during the pandemic.

“After she died, her family wrote me letters thanking me,” said Short. “Her obituary was in the New York Times as a famous artist. In the last paragraph of her obituary, it said ‘We’d like to thank Dr. Steve Short, who came from Manhattan, Kansas, to Manhattan, New York, to care for her.’ That’s a moment I’ll never forget, and I’ll cherish it forever.”

The 1st Infantry Division is scheduled to host its final Medal of Honor recipient commemoration ceremony and street memorialization at Fort Riley in December.

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