Walter C. Gelini
, for whom its entrance is now named.Although there is a plaque naming the gate, there is nothing else to identify Gelini
relation to Fort Belvoir.Gelini
was born in Collier, W.V., June 11, 1924.He received a bachelor of science degree at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) and was commissioned in 1945.He later received master's degrees in civil engineering and international affairs from Harvard University in 1954 and George Washington University in 1964, respectively. He graduated from the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1957, and the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa., in 1963.Gelini was a company commander and battalion S-3 in Korea from 1945 to 1948; was assigned to the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project at Sandia Base, N.M., from 1948 to 1952; and then assigned to the 1169th Engineer Group and to Eighth Army in Korea from 1954 to 1956.He became a staff officer, Planning Studies Division, Army Map Service, from 1956 to 1957. He
next served as an instructor at West Point
from 1957 to 1960.From 1960 to 1962 he served as assistant and area engineer, Mediterranean Division, Izmir, Turkey.
For two years (1963-64) he
commanded the 17th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, then went to the Pentagon from 1964 - 1965. Gelini
took command of the 921st Engineer Group
at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and then the 79th Engineer Group
in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967.Upon his return, he became District Engineer at Rock Island, Ill., from 1967 to 1969.
In 1969 he
was designated Commanding Officer, U.S. Army Mobility Equipment Research and Development Center
at Fort Belvoir.It was while serving here that he
suddenly died after a brief illness at Walter Reed Army Medical Center May 17, 1970.The colonel was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.He
was survived by his
wife and two daughters. Gelini
collected a fair share of recognition during his
career, including the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and two Army Commendation Medals. After his
death, a series of awards, officially designated the Gelini Awards, were instituted to reward outstanding service and in the 1970s were presented by the colonel's widow, Dorothy. Although historical records don't give any indication why, it is evident that he was held in considerable esteem by his military and civilian compatriots, since just four days after his death, the gatehouse to the then Mobility Equipment Research and Development Center at Gunston Road was memorialized as the Gelini Gate, a remarkably short time period for such a recognition.