News: 4th Brigade Soldiers honor three fallen comrades
Spc. Dan Balda
4th Brigade Combat Team PAO
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq -- Task Force Baghdad Soldiers gathered to remember three fallen warriors in a ceremony Sept. 21.
Lt. Col. Robert Roth, commander of 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, led mourners in paying their last respects to 1st Sgt. Alan Gifford, Sgt. Matthew Deckard and Spc. David Ford"all assigned to C Company, 4th Bn., 64th Armor Reg.
The Soldiers were killed when an explosive device detonated next to their tank Sept. 17 as they were conducting combat operations to kill or capture terrorists in the Baghdad area.
"I believe that for every horrible thing that happens on this earth, something very good comes from it," Roth said. "The single most important thing we have on this earth is each other. The actions I saw that night (of the attack) and the following days help us to remember that all we have in this sometimes cruel world is each other."
He saw the incredible love that came from everyone that night: the crews who never gave up and did whatever it took to save the Soldiers" lives; the families back home who took care of the wives and children of those who perished; the complete strangers who went to the hospital in Washington, D.C., to visit the injured as they returned.
"Ladies and gentleman this is love for one another, which is the most powerful force on earth," Roth said. "That is what makes America great. In my mind, that is why we are here in Iraq today. We are here to show the rest of the world how to love one another and live in peace.
"God put these men here on earth for a purpose," he continued. "Perhaps their purpose was to do what they could in the short time they had here in Iraq, and perhaps it is also to remind us that there is no greater love than the love of a friend, regardless of color, race or religion."
The commander asked that his Soldiers turn from their season of mourning, leave their grief by the wayside and embrace the joy the fallen Soldiers had brought to their lives.
"Don't tell me nothing good came from the deaths of these men, because I don't believe it. Let us put grief aside; the time to celebrate their lives has begun," Roth said. "Walk away today and honor these men by talking about them; laughing, joking and sharing stories about them that brought us all closer together. Thank these heroes for their sacrifice and for reminding us that all we have is each other."
Capt. David Anderson, C Co. commander, followed Roth by sharing memories of his Soldiers. "1st Sgt. Gifford had the ability to make me smile no matter how mad I was or the situation. He was respected by all and loved by the (Soldiers of the unit). My job was made so easy because my first sergeant was by my side. He was a family man; he would beam with pride and joy as he talked about his wife and son."
Anderson remembered Decker as an information sponge whose eyes would shine brightly as he acquired new knowledge. He was a mild-mannered Soldier who gave everyone around him reassurance and confidence.
"He told me when I promoted him to sergeant, his promotion was for his family," Anderson said. "He loved his family more than anything."
Sgt. John Durst remembered Decker as a great person, always there for whoever needed him. "He would help anyone and never ask anything in return."
Ford's roommate at Stewart and battle-buddy Spc. Nathan Parks, remembered his "little brother" as one who didn't plan on staying in the Army past his enlistment, but who was a great Soldier.
"He was a smart kid and a hard worker," Parks said. "He motivated me on several occasions. He just loved life."
Anderson's first thought when he met Ford was, "My goodness, this kid looks too young."
During the time he knew Ford, Anderson said he watched him mature into a man and remembered him as one who never complained, never questioned his orders.
"We shall not mourn their deaths as a tragedy'that in itself would be a tragedy," Anderson concluded. "We shall learn from them and speak of their strength and courage in the face of adversity. They were doing what they wanted"being Soldiers and acting with selfless service. They gave their lives in the noblest of ways so that people would know freedom."