By Danielle Davis, Bayonet & Saber /
Long before the commanding generals of the Maneuver Center of Excellence called Riverside home, Caroline Howard played there with her childhood friends, the daughters of Arthur Bussey, the original owner.
Born in 1909, the 107-year-old visited Fort Benning Aug. 13 to tour the commanding general’s home and reminisce on days long past.
Retired Staff Sgt. Larry Kennedy and his wife Lisa, church friends of Howard, helped make her trip down memory lane possible.
“We live down the road from Mrs. Caroline in Fort Mitchell. She always talks about running on the steps and playing with the Bussey children. My husband thought that for her birthday he would love to just be able to bring her back here,” said Lisa Kennedy.
“He wanted to show her the house and bring up some old memories for her,” she added.
“We thank the commanding general and his wife for allowing us to do this. It is just a blessing and we appreciate it all,” Kennedy continued.
Howard’s uncle lived across the road from Mr. Bussey, which is how she came to meet and befriend his daughters.
“It’s just wonderful to get to come here again. I never dreamed I’d get to come back again. I was quite young when I was brought here. We just grew up here. We’d just run across the road back and forth to see the girls. And they would come to see us,” said Howard.
“Sarah, one of the girls, was close to me until she died,” Howard added.
“We would play hopscotch and all of the old time games,” said Howard.
Howard recalled seeing the first Soldiers on Fort Benning. “I well remember the first tents that were put up. I felt so sorry for those young men. I thought ‘It’s beginning to get cool. How are they going to stay warm.'”
“We were grateful for the Soldiers and thought it was wonderful they were coming,” she added.
As the number of Soldiers grew in size, Howard’s uncle eventually had to move because they needed the land, she explained.
“This is wonderful community outreach and an opportunity for the commanding general and his wife to have someone who visited here and played with the children here before the Army moved here and bought this house,” said David Scott Stieghan, Fort Benning’s Infantry historian.
“It’s marvelous that Mrs. Howard is still here and can remember what it was like before the Army came here,” Stieghan added.
“It’s an amazing opportunity and quite a blessing to meet Mrs. Howard and get her perspective on things that have happened and the history and what she remembers. It’s wonderful,” said Cindy Wesley, the wife of the commanding general.
“The Busseys giving this land to the Army has allowed the Army to grow leaders that have been profound in the last century. Patton, Bradley, Marshall and Eisenhower, they were all able to be raised here because of the contribution of the Busseys. It’s really special to go back to the beginning of it,” added Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, the commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
“I met Mrs. Howard years ago on the Rozell Fabiani show and I’ve been giving the tours of this house since 1979,” said Jean Harron, a volunteer on Fort Benning.
For more photos, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com.