Fort Riley, Kansas

 

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Locomotive makes first stop at Fort Riley to honor Soldiers

By Kalene Lozick | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | November 17, 2017

     It was a cold, Kansas autumn morning when Lindsey Douglas, Union Pacific public affairs officer, took her place behind a podium to greet a crowd of people waiting to learn more about the locomotive behind her.

     Douglas addressed the audience during the outdoor “Union Pacific Salute to the Military” event held near the First Territorial Capitol building at 692 Huebner Road where Locomotive No. 1943, known as The Spirit, made its first military installation stop at Fort Riley Nov. 6.

     “The locomotive commemorates more than 150 years of collaboration between Union Pacific and the United States military,” Douglas said.

     A partnership that also connects Union Pacific to Fort Riley.

     “Fort Riley enjoys a long and storied history with the Union Pacific railroad,” said Col. John D. Lawrence, Fort Riley garrison commander, as he addressed the crowd of Fort Riley community members, U.S. government officials and Union Pacific employees. “Our histories are intertwined. Rail played a strategic role in the development of this important Army installation, founded in 1853 as Camp Center … In years since, the partnership has deepened, with rail being an important component in Fort Riley’s power projection and capability to deploy.”

     To commemorate the partnership with the installation, Union Pacific made Fort Riley the locomotive’s first military installation stop.

     “To specifically honor Union Pacific’s partnership with Fort Riley, we choose to make Fort Riley our first military installation to display the 1943,” Douglas said.

     The Spirit will honor those who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. military with the rolling billboard.

     “When we honor an organization, we don’t put up aesthetic billboards,” Douglas said. “We reach 7,000 communities across 32,000 miles of track in 23 states. We want everyone to know how much we value and respect our honorees.”

     The locomotive’s symbolic graphics and color palette bring branches of military together on one moving locomotive.

     “Union Pacific’s iconic yellow locomotives date back to the 1930s,” she said. “Only 16 times in our history have we deviated from our standard by creating a commemorative paint scheme. This year we salute American’s military with a locomotive designed specifically for them. The No. 1943 and the name commemorate the spirit of the Union Pacific. Elements of the design symbolize every branch of the armed forces — Air Force Silver, the former Strategic Air Command nose sash, Coast Guard racing stripe, Navy Battleship gray, camouflage for the Army and the Marines.”

     As the event progressed, Liisa Lawson Stark, the assistant Vice President of Public Affairs and Corporate Relations, commemorated Fort Riley employees who helped with the deployment of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

     “The efforts that went into moving 2nd Brigade Combat Team ... we were extremely proud to achieve a very aggressive transportation goal of moving eight unit trains in nine days.” Stark said. “That is very significant especially when you consider you have to load all the equipment, secure it, tie it down and make sure it is safe to move.”

     The way Union Pacific commemorated Fort Riley employees who helped on this mission was by giving them a replica of a golden spike.

     “This is a replica of the final spike that was driven into the ground at Promontory Summit, Utah,” she said. “Back when we completed the first transcontinental system across the United States.”

     With her final remarks, she recognized the partnership with Fort Riley and how it is an honor to be a part of the deployment efforts of 2nd ABCT.

     “The capability of the U.S. Army to deploy is an important aspect of combat readiness,” Stark said. “And Union Pacific is extremely proud to partner with Fort Riley in that regard.”

     With 20 percent of Union Pacific employee workforce having had military service, Union Pacific recognizes the impact active and retired service members have on their organization, she said.

     “In addition to the railroad assistance in deployment and training missions, Union Pacific’s extremely proud to seek to hire veterans in every capacity they can,” Stark said. “The Soldiers built the railroad and really laid the framework for Union Pacific … And that is really one reason we seek to hire veterans. They understand Union Pacific Railroad, we value the energy, commitment and dedication that they bring to our company.”

     Having previously served at Fort Riley when he was active duty, Scott Arcuri, supervisory traffic manager and Fort Riley’s freight chief, Union Pacific is able to give back to his home installation and be recognized for his service to not only Fort Riley, but to the Union Pacific as well.

     Arcuri was recognized by Stark for his efforts with the Union Pacific for the deployment of 2nd ABCT. He served on Fort Riley twice during his service, so the commemorative locomotive holds a deeper meaning.

     “It hits very close to home,” Arcuri said. “We have the ability to come onto Fort Riley and to see our brothers and sisters every single day, just like what we did when we were serving ourselves. Makes it all worthwhile.”

     When asked about the locomotive design, he said it feels great to recognize Soldiers and the sacrifices they make for freedom.