Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
A stream of photos and patriotic country music songs played as soldiers from the 15th Military Police Brigade, members of the Fort Leavenworth community, family and friends gathered for a memorial ceremony to honor 15th MP Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. William Ramsey Feb. 4 in the Lewis and Clark Center’s Eisenhower Auditorium.
Ramsey died unexpectedly on Jan. 20, 2020.
Ramsey entered the Army in July 1989. Some of his key assignments included 437th MP Company, 212th MP Detachment in Fort Belvoir, Va.; 56th MP Company in Fort Richardson, Alaska.; B Company, 705th MP Battalion (Detention); 9th MP Detachment in Mannheim, Germany; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 705th MP Battalion; 256th MP Company, 40th MP Battalion (Detention); the Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; 14th MP Brigade with duty at Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Va.; 249th MP Detachment, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, Republic of Korea, U.S. Army Correctional Activity-Korea; Headquarters Army Corrections Command in Alexandria, Va.; U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas; 525th MP Battalion (Detention), Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; 508th MP Battalion (Detention), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Operations Group B, Mission Command Training Program; and 15th MP Brigade command sergeant major.
Ramsey was awarded the Order of Marechaussee by the Military Police Regimental Association in 2010.
After reading from Joshua 4, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Williams, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, spoke to attendees about the power of memories.
“We are gathered here to grieve, to share our pain over whom we’ve lost. …Death not only robs us of the one we love, but, for a time, perhaps, some of the joy in living,” Williams said. “We wonder how we’re going to go on, but I feel that to help us cope, to help us deal with our pain and loss, God has provided us with a marvelous, marvelous gift.
“I believe that we are all endowed with the powerful capacity to remember, and this uniquely human capacity of memory is truly a gift,” he said. “I believe that all of this points to the truth that no one is totally lost to us as long as we can remember, and we share our memories together.”
Throughout the ceremony, several soldiers shared their own memories of Ramsey as well as the memories of others.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Cluts, HHC, Joint Regional Correctional Facility, shared memories on behalf of 16 different soldiers and civilians who are current or former members of the brigade.
Command Sgt. Maj. Justin Shad, 705th MP Battalion, wrote that he has many memories of Ramsey over the past 20 years.
“I will miss your laughter, jokes, stories, countless conversations about anything, and most of all, your friendship,” Shad wrote. “Your love for your family and others is what I always admired. You can never be replaced, however, the impact you left on so many will continue to live on.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Haliburton, 40th MP Battalion, quoted Dr. Seuss to start his remarks.
“It is often said ‘Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.’” Haliburton wrote. “By looking at the pictures today, this quote could not ring more true.”
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Baker recalled a surprise Ramsey had for him and his dachshunds.
“Wild Bill was a unique man who always made his and everyone else’s environment enjoyable. His humor and overall demeanor were contagious and hard not to follow,” Baker said. “Bill knew my love for my dogs as he called them wiener dogs. …He thought it would be fun if not only I dressed up, but my dogs dressed up, as a wiener for the brigade Halloween festival.
“He surprised me with the costumes, and in good spirits, I obliged in our effort to build camaraderie,” he said. “I, and a lot of other folks, have a photo of me in the costume. It was his lightheartedness that made being around him a great experience. I am honored like many others to have had him in my life and to call him a friend.”
Col. Caroline Smith, 15th MP Brigade commander, said Ramsey left indelible imprints on the hearts of all who knew him, and she shared some of the ways he left an imprint on her. Recently, she said, she went to visit her husband, who lives in Florida, and a pizza delivery guy showed up looking for her, but they hadn’t ordered a pizza.
“He said, ‘Your sergeant major did. He wanted me to tell you to relax and enjoy your time with your husband,’” Smith said. “I just sat back and I laughed. I shook my head because that was Wild Bill just doing it again, something completely unexpected. It was just who he was, and he made me feel special.
“He made me grow as a person and a leader. Yes, he left a mark on my heart,” she said “He was a loyal battle buddy that helped me keep things in perspective, and he never hesitated to shed light on my blind spots when I had them to ensure we were leading our brigade down the right path. … He cared about this brigade, he cared about the soldiers, he cared about the leaders, and he cared about the civilians.”
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Plemmons said Ramsey, who was a sergeant when they met 25 years ago, was talented, committed and understood why it was important to surround oneself with people who are more capable than yourself.
“As a first sergeant, I couldn’t ask for a more capable, hard-working noncommissioned officer,” Plemmons said. “Every time I had the opportunity to influence the career of or serve with Command Sergeant Major Ramsey, I did.
“Command Sergeant Major Ramsey did not die in vain,” he said. “His legacy will live on for generations with his wife Katie, (his daughters) Shalane, Morgan, Jacquelyn, Madelyn and Caroline, and the thousands of soldiers he trained, mentored, laughed, celebrated and sacrificed with.”
Plemmons ended with a quote from an unknown source.
“‘Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it,’” he quoted. “‘It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.’”
Following remarks, the ceremony concluded with the playing of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes by retired Lt. Col. Dale Cleland; a last roll call led by U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and U.S. Army Corrections Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Flom; a six-gun three-round volley fire by the Combined Arms Center, Special Troops Battalion; and the playing of taps by retired Col. Sam Young, before attendees paid final respects.