News: Remembering our fallen heroes
Story by Sgt. Uriah Walker
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Barbecues, picnics, department store sales, spending time with friends and family – These are some of the ways we spend the Memorial Day weekend at home. What about the soldiers and civilians deployed around the world to combat zones?
A multinational group of service members and civilians came together at Marne Garden-Forward inside of the Third Infantry Division headquarters compound to recognize and pay tribute to our fallen heroes.
After the arrival of the Division Color Guard, 3rd Infantry Division Band vocalist Staff Sgt. Dana Fischl performed the National Anthem with Old Glory blowing gently in the Afghanistan wind at half staff over her right shoulder.
Brig. Gen. Christopher Hughes, Third Infantry Division and Regional Command-South deputy commanding general for maneuver, then came to the podium to share a personal story about Memorial Day and what it meant to him.
Hughes is from a small, patriotic town in Southwest Iowa called Red Oak.
“At the end of WWII, Red Oak had the infamous distinction of having the highest per capita percentages of war casualties of any other city in the United States…a town of less than 4,000 citizens,” explained Hughes.
He continued by saying that each year the town assembles in the high school gym to induct flags into the Hall of Honor for those veterans who had passed during the preceding year.
In much the same fashion as those in Red Oak, soldiers and civilians deployed to Kandahar Airfield gathered to remember those who have fallen on the field of battle in RC-S defending not only our freedoms but those of the people of Afghanistan as well.
“The colors of this division and its campaign streamers represent tens of thousands of honored dead,” proclaimed Hughes. “We must and we will honor them today and every day those colors fly over RC South.”
As the names of the 64 fallen heroes were read aloud, comrades and friends of several of those being remembered came forward from the audience to place wreaths and unit coins at the base of the memorial.
Hughes reinforced remembrance of our fallen comrades with a quote from President John F. Kennedy, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
“We must also never forget the families of our missing comrades, like Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the Gold Star bearers who have lost their soldiers to illness, injury and combat,” exclaimed Hughes. “It is their living example of resiliency that gives us faith and strength to carry on and honor our fallen comrades with renewed vigor and determination.”