KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan - With Memorial Day right around the corner, service members deployed to Forward Operating Base Salerno dedicated a wall to honor their fallen comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Memorial Day, formally known as Decoration Day, originated after the American Civil War to commemorate Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
At FOB Salerno a wall was constructed to acknowledge the American military units that have deployed to FOB Salerno. The names of the service members, who gave their life while deployed to Afghanistan, were painted below the insignia of the units they served in.
“I determined the best way to honor my fallen was to do what they had asked me to do and that is remembering them on Memorial Day with a smile,” said Col. Morris Goins, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, hailing from Southern Pines, N.C. He said that this day is about remembering those who’ve fallen and reflecting on how they lived their life, not how they died.
In charge of designing and constructing this momentous project was Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Curnow, an armament technician assigned to B Company, 725th Battalion Support Brigade, hailing from Butte, Mont.
Curnow said the creation of this memorial is very personnel to him, coming from a family with numerous family members who are veterans.
“This is not only for the personnel here on the wall, but it’s for all the people that went before us as well,” Curnow said. “The best piece of making all of this is seeing the veterans and even the civilians who arrived here working giving us a pat on the back saying ‘good job,’ and after hearing all that, it just makes all that much more better.”
During Goins’ speech, he spoke on how he has grown to have a greater appreciation and understanding of the meaning behind Memorial Day.
“Prior to the global war on terrorism, I did not grasp the full meaning of Memorial Day, but God knows I do now,” Goins said. “As a commander I’ve lost 32 heroes in combat and initially felt sorrow.”
The dedication of this memorial so close to the where the fighting is ongoing has found some service members feeling a sense of wonderment and satisfaction.
“I’ve seen something like this in Bagram, but something out here, right along the border, right where the fight is, I have not seen it. This is pretty amazing,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Patchen, the chaplain assistant assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry (Airborne), hailing from Casper, Wyo.
Patchen also spoke on his appreciation for the soldiers who worked so hard to design the memorial and the great service it bestows on the family members who have lost a family member.
“The soldiers who did this should be proud of themselves,” Patchen said. “They did an awesome job. This is for everybody to see and just take a second to pause and think about the fallen. Think about their families.”