By Staff Sgt. Christopher Jelle
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
MILLINGTON, Tenn. — Family, friends, military representatives and state officials gathered in Tennessee Sept. 14 for the dedication of the Spc. Christopher Fox Tactical Equipment Maintenance Facility.
The building was dedicated by leadership from the Army Reserve’s 81st Regional Support Command.
Billy Manley, the building commander and supervisor, said the facility is designed to support the tactical maintenance needs of Army Reserve units in Memphis and the surrounding area.
Manley submitted Fox’s name for the dedication after a chance encounter at a doctor’s office with Kay Jackson, Fox’s aunt.
“We just got to talking about the military, and she mentioned her nephew was killed in Iraq,” said Manley. “At the time, I was still looking for somebody (to dedicate the building to) and it just dawned on me, as she started talking about his background, the unit he was with and how it happened.”
Fox, an infantryman, was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, when he was killed by small-arms fire during a dismounted patrol in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad.
Manley said he chose Fox because he is from the local area and was killed relatively recently. He proposed Fox’s name to the 81st RSC leadership, and, once they agreed, contacted the Family and began speaking with Amy Frost, who considers Fox her own son.
Frost spoke at the ceremony, wearing a leather vest bearing Fox’s photo and unit insignias.
She recalled how she met Fox while working as a teacher at an inner city high school in Memphis, in the spring of 2003.
“(He was) the only white student in a school of 1,200 kids.”
He introduced himself with a joke and handed her a picture of himself on a football card, which she still keeps today.
“He was an over-the-top, bigger-than-life kind of kid,” said Frost.
Fox enlisted in the Army and entered into basic training in March 2005. By fall of the same year, he was stationed at Fort Carson and scheduled to deploy to Iraq.
“He loved what he did and the people he did it with,” said Frost.
“He wasn’t always happy about the location or the conditions, but he loved what he did.”
While deployed, he was assigned to the 1st. Bn., 68th Armor Reg., and responsible for patrolling one of the rivers and mentoring the local police. Throughout the tour, Fox was known for keeping the morale high through his jokes and singing.
“Spc. Fox was the one Soldier who everybody went to,” said 1st Sgt. Jesus Medina, senior noncommissioned officer, Company B, 1st Bn. 68th Armor Reg., and Fox’s platoon sergeant during that first deployment. “He was the guy that even the leadership would go to for a ‘pick me up.’ The Soldiers just gravitated to him.”
After redeploying and spending a year back home, Fox deployed a second time in the fall of 2007. The following March, he was injured in a blast from a roadside bomb, earning him a Purple Heart, before being killed in September.
“On Sept. 30, 2008, two Army personnel in dress greens rang my doorbell at 6 a.m.,” Frost said, recalling the moment. “I will forever have that memory burned into my mind.
“All I asked was that (he) would be remembered and taken care of for the rest of time and given the honor due, by having him buried in a veteran’s cemetery,” she said. “I just wanted him remembered as a hero and given the respect of someone who died fighting for their country.”
Knowing how much the Army, Fox’s unit and the people he served with meant to him, Frost extended an invitation to the dedication ceremony to the “Silver Lions” Battalion.
“When asked to participate in today’s ceremony, we accepted without hesitation,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Wilson, commander, 1st Bn., 68th Armor Reg., during opening remarks. “We simply did not want to be anywhere else.”
Three members of the unit traveled from Fort Carson to attend the ceremony to help honor the memory of one of their fallen heroes.
“I’m really grateful to be out here and have a chance to meet (Fox’s) mom,” said Medina. “I’m really honored, and I really have to give it to the Family and Millington as a whole, who have shown an amazing hospitality.”
“It was amazing to see the people come down from Fort Carson,” said Frost. “It really shows me that they care and they won’t let (Fox’s) name be forgotten.”
Some of Fox’s personal items in a display case, a flag and the plaques from the dedication ceremony will be given a special place in the new facility to honor its namesake.
“I hope to provide the Family with some closure by being able to come out here and look at the display case and the memorial,” said Manley.