News: Spartans honor fallen with monument
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jason Epperson
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Family, friends and paratroopers gathered for a memorial dedication at the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, headquarters to honor soldiers killed in action during the brigade’s recent deployment to Afghanistan, Nov. 16, 2012.
Maj. Kenneth Bolin, 4-25th ABCT chaplain, led the invocation which focused on the sacrifices of the fallen.
“So strengthen us now, and in the days to come, so we may not forget the sacrifices of these men and the many more they represent,” Bolin, a native of Manlius, Ill., said.
Brigade Commander Col. Morris T. Goins spoke to a somber audience as he quoted the Preamble of the United States constitution.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,” Goins quoted.
“While these words of our constitution of the United States are familiar to millions, few give real thought to their real meaning,” he said. “After all, they offer no guarantees to real freedom.”
Goins spoke of the sacrifices the fallen soldiers made for their nation.
“You see the sacrifice of our fallen, our families, our friends and our community,” Goins said. “We the people helped the people of Afghanistan have options to create a government of their very own that provides for their safety and happiness as well. In other words, we’ve given them an option. In order for our nation to continue to be the ray of hope for the world and our own people, we the people must continue to sacrifice.”
Several family members of the Spartan Heroes, respectfully referred to as Gold Star family members, listened solemnly as Goins openly grieved their loss.
“The Gold Star families that are represented here today, as well as the paratroopers in our community, i.e., ‘We the People,’ have saved lives in Afghanistan, provided a foreign nation options and protected our families so the future generations of Americans can be free,” Goins said. “Sadly, though, in our pursuit of freedom, we suffered fallen comrades. There are eight paratroopers and six soldiers of Task Force Spartan who paid for our earthly freedoms.”
Goins then spoke to the friends and loved ones of the paratroopers being honored.
“For the fallen and to the families, I will say this. I will honor you and the fallen by living my life to the fullest,” Goins said. “I will ensure that our children remain free and lastly, I will remember our fallen as they lived for what they stood for: something greater than themselves. To the families and friends of the fallen, you are not alone. We are always here to talk, and more importantly just [to] listen.
A visibly moved Goins concluded his remarks with emotion.
“Today, there may be tears, and I will tell you and continue to tell you often, let the tears flow, for there’s more room on the outside than there is on the inside. I will share a quote with you that I love so much about tears. It is from Washington Irving who once said, and I quote, ‘There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief ... and most importantly, unspeakable love.’”
The names of the honored were read, followed by a moment of silence. The ceremony moved outdoors where Goins and 4-25th Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gardner unveiled a stone monument to the fallen soldiers. There names were engraved on the stone.
After the unveiling of the memorial, a wreath was presented in front of it, followed by the firing of the volleys and the sounding of Taps.
Gold Star Family members were allowed to pay their respects first and take photographs of the memorial stone.
The event touched several paratroopers who were deployed with those being honored.
Sgt. 1st Class Thurman Stubbs, the brigade’s Aviation Element noncommissioned officer-in-charge, said the memorial was a chance to show the families how the unit feels.
“It’s a chance to honor those that we’ve lost,” Stubbs said. “It’s a chance to give those guys their just due. This also gives the families a chance to see that we respect what their family members did throughout that time and that we still care about them. We’re still thinking about them even though they’re not here.”