News: Gold Star Families, ‘Ready First’ Soldiers remember fallen Soldiers of 1/1 AD
Story by Spc. Jessica Luhrs-Stabile
EL PASO, Texas - Soldiers of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, “Ready First” 1st Armored Division, along with family members of soldiers who were with the brigade in Germany, paid tribute to fallen soldiers of “Ready First,” during a memorial ceremony held at the brigade headquarters on East Fort Bliss, June 24.
This group of family members was lead by Mrs. Lynda MacFarland, wife of Brig. Gen. Sean MacFarland, and included the Gold Star families - immediate family members of a uniformed service member who died in a combat zone - of two soldiers killed in combat during the brigade’s deployment to Ramadi, Capt. Jason West and Sgt. David Almazan; family members of former “Ready First” soldiers and friends of the Gold Star families.
“This memorial serves as an enduring tribute to the sacrifices we asked of the soldiers of this brigade, and a reminder of the sacrifices that we may ask of them again,” said Master Sgt. William A. Thompson on behalf of Brig. Gen. MacFarland, who commanded Ready First during their tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom IV. Thompson, who is currently the operations noncommissioned officer in charge for 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, Ready First, served under MacFarland during the brigade’s deployment.
The memorial plaque was originally located in Friedberg, Germany, and was dedicated in 2007 in honor of the soldiers, sailors and Marines who were killed in combat in support of the Ready First Combat Team during OIF IV, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Russell K. Reimers, the “Ready First” command sergeant major. The plaque is now located at the “Ready First” brigade headquarters and serves as a reminder to the soldiers of Ready First the sacrifice their comrades made.
“The Ready First troopers who pass by this plaque every day can look at it and draw inspiration and the motivation to do all they can in peace to prepare for the crucible of war,” said Thompson.
During the memorial ceremony, the Gold Star families and family friends took rubbings of the memorial plaque.
Mrs. Faith Bomar, who traveled to Fort Bliss from California and was a family friend of West, said being able to see the memorial and to get rubbings of the soldiers her husband served with was a very touching moment for her.
“The soldiers of the Ready First did not die in vain – they changed the course of the war and in doing so saved countless lives among the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that followed them,” said Thompson.
Following the nameplate rubbings the ceremony participants observed a moment of silence then received a tour of the Ready First brigade footprint and one of the brigade’s newest additions the Infantry Combat Vehicle Stryker.
According to MacFarland, he honors the names on the memorial every day and expects everyone to do the same.
“It is up to us to honor the fallen heroes as best we can” said Thompson on behalf of MacFarland. “As the last commander of these brave and selfless soldiers, I’ll speak for them once again and say thank you for your personal sacrifices and for ensuring that their sacrifices are not forgotten.”
This work, Gold Star Families, ‘Ready First’ Soldiers remember fallen Soldiers of 1/1 AD, by SPC Jessica Luhrs-Stabile, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.