COLUMBUS — A simple mention of the “Legacy Card” program brings tears to the eyes of retired Army Col. John Topper.

The program at Fort Benning’s Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, is giving young soldiers an appreciation of those who served before them.

“I can’t begin to tell you how important it is to me,” said Topper, a Santa Claus, Ind., resident, who was at Fort Benning on Thursday and Friday to watch his grandson, Casey Boyer, graduate from basic training. “And I trust it’s important to Casey as well.”

Pfc. Casey Boyer knows why his grandfather cries at the mention of the program started by 1st Sgt. David Robinson.

Boyer carried Frank Webb with him on the legacy card he kept through much of his 14 weeks of training.

“Frank Webb was one of granddad’s platoon leaders in Vietnam,” he said. “He was killed in the Binh Dinh province on May 5, 1968. I know they were very close.”

Topper asked Robinson to give Boyer Webb’s card when training began in January.

“They’re much alike, Casey and Frank,” said Topper, who commanded Alpha Company, 1-50, from 1967-68. “Both young and single (Webb was 21, Casey is 19), both solid, the kind of young men you can count on. Casey reminds me so much of Frank.”

Between 1967 and 1970, 202 members of the 1-50 battalion were killed. Their names are memorialized on a granite monument in front of the 1-50 headquarters on Fort Benning’s Sand Hill.

Robinson, of Vista, Calif., began the “Legacy Card” program shortly after coming to the battalion.

“I thought it would be a good way to teach the kids about Army values by learning about soldiers from their own unit who had made the ultimate sacrifice,” Robinson said.

Robinson had index-sized cards made to include the names, ranks, hometowns, birthdays, dates of death and where each soldier’s name can be located on the Vietnam Wall in Washington.

Each private was given a card during the third week of training.

Robinson said he wanted the 200 soldiers under his control to get a sense of military history. He also hoped the cards would provide inspiration when things got tough in training.

“There are times when a kid says to himself that he’s not going to make it,” Robinson said. “That’s when I want them to pull out the card and remember the price soldiers from the 1-50th paid.”

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