by Jose Rodriguez
U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School
July 24, 2018
Lieutenant Colonel Karen J. Wagner was one of the 125 people killed during the September 11, 2001 attack by a hijacked airliner on the Pentagon. She was serving at her position of medical personnel officer in the Office of the Army Surgeon General and Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel during that tragic day. To recognize her service and sacrifice to the U.S. Army and the Nation, the headquarters building of the 32d Medical Brigade is named in her honor. As you walk into Wagner Hall her photo is on display, along with a shadow box with her awards.
Now, a very special painting is placed on the wall of building 902, created by another person who dedicated his life to service, the late Mr. Richard Valdez. In a touching ceremony the family of Mr. Valdez donated a painting of LTC Wagner to the Soldiers of the 32nd Medical Brigade.
LTC Wagner served 17 years in uniform. She grew up in military family in San Antonio, attending Judson Independent School District. A 1984 graduate of the ROTC program at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas, she earned a Master’s in Health Services Administration at the San Antonio campus of Webster University in St. Louis in 1992. Wagner’s many Army postings included serving as adjutant for the 85th Medical Evacuation Hospital at Fort Lee, Virginia, executive officer and company commander of D Company in the 187th Medical Battalion at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, and chief of personnel for the 57th Evacuation Hospital in Wuerzburg, Germany. She also headed the personnel services branch at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
“Remembering the national sacrifice of LTC Wagner is an honor, and we want this painting to be seen by everyone,” said Ms. Kourtney Valdez, daughter of Richard Valdez. Ms. Valdez and her family were on hand to unveil the portrait of LTC Wagner, along with many of Richard Valdez’s friends and coworkers. “My father loved painting, and the thing he truly loved doing was painting the armed forces of America. He wanted to create this painting of Karen Wagner and my family is pleased to donate this painting, and we know it will now go to an amazing home, where it will be here way past all of us.”
Richard Valdez, a realism artist, received his early training in the commercial art arena. He worked as an Illustrator/ Exhibit Specialist from 1975 to 1978, and was also Chief of Graphics for Impact Productions from 1979 to 1985 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. From 1985 to 2015, he was Chief of Medical Graphics for Electronic Multimedia Imaging Center Branch at Fort Sam Houston. In 2015 Richard Valdez pass away after a long illness.
“We’re humbled and honored to accept this work of art dedicated in memory of Karen Wagner and on behalf of Mr. Valdez,” said Major General Brian C Lein, Commanding General U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School. “I can’t thank the family of Mr. Valdez enough for this painting. This fall there will be young Soldiers training here that were too young to remember 9/11. This painting will stand as a memory to every single man and women that come here as trainees, so that we never forget.”
This special painting is another chance for to remember LTC Karen Wagner’s service and sacrifice along with appreciating Mr. Valdez’s spirit and artistic talents. To see the painting visit 32nd Medical Brigade headquarters at building 902, Fort Sam Houston.