News: Servicemembers observe moment of silence, candlelight vigil for Sandy Hook victims, families
Story by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Despite being focused on the realities of war, approximately 100 service members and civilians gathered aboard Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Dec. 21, to remember the victims and families affected by the Newtown, Conn., tragedy.
Deployed service members quickly heard news of the horrific event that happened one week ago and wanted to show their support.
The Sandy Hook Vigil five-kilometer walk, named after the elementary school where 20 children and six adults were killed, brought the deployed service members and civilians together. Candles were passed out and lit in remembrance of the lives lost before a moment of silence.
“I thought of my younger brothers, my younger sister and cousins,” said Lance Cpl. Ravoughn Henry, supply administration clerk, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). “I don’t know how I would feel if I came home and something like this had happened to them.”
Henry, from Compton, Calif., is the second oldest of five children, and he was saddened by the news of the young victims.
“I’m the big brother,” said Henry. “All I could think of is how could this happen? Part of our future was lost because of this tragedy.”
On a base with service members from different branches, five-kilometer races are common to boost morale and have friendly competition amongst the services. However, this was not about finishing first.
“We participated in the vigil for the tragedy that happened,” said Sgt. Nikolaus Gugelman, warehouse chief with the squadron. “We were there to support their families and everything they have gone through in their time of need.”
Gugelman, from Seattle, was another service member whose thoughts went out to the families. He kept the names of three children who were killed, Jack Pinto, 6; Daniel Barden, 7; Dylan Hockley, 6, in his back pocket as a constant reminder during the walk.
“It really hit home for me because I lost a sibling myself,” said Gugelman. “I know there are a lot of families out there, brothers and sisters, that lost one of their siblings.”
He especially felt for the families who lost children at a young age and are facing the holiday season without them.
“It’s a tragic event,” said Gugelman. “It’s very frustrating and hard on the families, and I can relate to that. I’m sorry that they have to go through this.”
The candles illuminated each participant as heavy fog set the scene for the somber mood before the walk.
“The candles stood out to me,” said Henry. “We did the same thing for my aunt. We did a candle walk for her, and I got choked up thinking about it today.”
Henry felt it was important to show support to the families. Being in Afghanistan was a nonissue for him, the tragedy transcending the thousands of miles between him and the families.
“We should be supporting each other all the time no matter where we are,” said Henry.
Before the walk, the participants blew out their candles and picked up flashlights. Many walked in silence, others quietly talking between one another.
After finishing, they shook hands and walked away. This morning was not about finishing first, the bitter cold surrounding the participants or the war in Afghanistan. This morning it was about the families and friends of 20 children and six adults who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
This work, Servicemembers observe moment of silence, candlelight vigil for Sandy Hook victims, families, by Sgt Timothy Lenzo, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.