WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — Dozens of former and current Green Berets gathered in a Rocky Mountain community, Nov. 12, to unveil a bronze battle cross in honor of a local man’s military service.
More than 100 citizens of Woodland Park attended the Veterans Day weekend dedication ceremony, where the city manager, sculptor and the fallen hero’s wife and children uncovered a memorial statue at Lions Park, located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and state Route 67.
Master Sgt. Richard Ferguson served 25 years with 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Bad Tölz, Germany, and Fort Carson, Colo., by the time he requested retirement. Nearing the end of his career, he established a residence in “the city above the clouds,” as stated on the Woodland Park welcome sign.
“He could have stayed home,” said a sergeant major from 10th SFG(A), speaking to an encircling crowd of civilians and soldiers. He served with Ferguson in Iraq and saw him on his final day. “Ferg didn’t have to be in country, in fact, we asked him not to go, because he had retirement orders.
“Ferg was in it to win it from the very beginning,” he said, suggesting the demolition expert’s presence in the Pentagon during 9/11 sparked a steadfast dedication. “What he said to me was very simple. He said, ‘it’s like my family. How can I not go that one last time?’”
“Ferg was in it to win it from the very beginning. … What he said to me was very simple. He said, ‘it’s like my family. How can I not go that one last time?'”
Ferguson, 45, died of injuries from a Humvee rollover near Samarra, Iraq, March 30, 2004.
“It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with the Ferguson family and sculptor Scott Stearman to turn a dream into a reality that you’re going to help us unveil today,” said David Buttery, Woodland Park city manager.
“Many of you know him as a friend, many of you know him as a family member, most of you here today know him as a fellow soldier,” said Buttery, who called for stories to explain the fallen hero. Three former Green Berets responded, describing him as a mentor, “a great demo man,” “a walking encyclopedia” and a friend.
“Fergy was passionate about everything he did, if it was worth doing, it deserved 100 percent,” said the command sergeant major of 10th SFG(A), while reading a letter from the command sergeant major of U.S. Special Operations Command Europe.
“Fergy was an expert in unconventional warfare and understood SF’s critical role in the mission,” he said, reading the letter. “With the unveiling of this memorial for my friend, Rich Ferguson, I reflect on past and present, about the man Fergy was and the legacy he left with us all.
“I like to think we have a little Ferg in all of us; I know I do. He touched us all in doing what he loved.”
Strong gusts of wind whipped through the afternoon dedication ceremony in the Front Range, reaching speeds greater than 80 mph along the peaks.
“The wind is him screwing with us,” said Eric Ferguson, who had arrived from Rhode Island to attend his brother’s memorial dedication. “As the older brother, it’s a test to see how his younger one would react.”
Eric Ferguson of Coventry, R.I., an Army veteran who served with 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, is one of three brothers who carried on a family commitment to military service. Their father’s Army service during the Cold War had instilled a culture of military discipline, responsibility and accountability, he said.
“As a brother, as his family, it’s an honor to see what they’ve done here,” said Eric Ferguson, “the recognition for him, the crowd that came out in honor of him, and the people who came out and gave stories. … We’re really proud of him. After 27 years in the Army, we were not expecting to get the phone call.”
Stearman of Green Mountain Falls, Colo., attended a 10th SFG(A) memorial earlier this year, where he took notes of a battle cross put on display there, he said. While he had sculpted bronze veteran memorials before, this would become his first work of art to honor an individual.
“I felt a tremendous weight of responsibility to make sure I did this right,” said Stearman, “to represent the family, to represent (Special Forces), to represent Fergy. In reality, this is going to outlive all of us.”The sculptor said he pulled a mold off Richard Ferguson’s dog tags, and then hung his bronze version over a replica of an M4 rifle, topped with a Green Beret, anchored in combat boots. He created a Kevlar helmet with goggles, to symbolize service in a desert, and draped a 10th SFG(A) guidon on the base of Pikes Peak granite.
Stearman cast small mementos, as if people had visited the battle cross and left them behind, he said, including unit coins, a master sergeant chevron, German jump wings and the soldier’s rack of military ribbons.
“It’s a representation of the things he’s done,” said Eric Ferguson, while staring at his brother’s memorial. “Over the years, we can come out here. And the next generation of Fergusons can come out and see that a member of our family has done great things for his country and military.”