News: 5-20 Inf., JGSDF pause to remember 9/11
Story by 1st Sgt. Jason Shepherd
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – It may have only lasted for a few minutes, but for the dozens in attendance on this sunny morning in central Washington, this ceremony was one that won’t easily be forgotten.
Soldiers from the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, joined members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and Department of the Army Civilians at Yakima Training Center, Wash., to reflect on the terrorist attack on the United States 12 years ago in a remembrance ceremony Sept. 11.
“Sept. 11, 2001 was a day that dramatically and irrevocably changed all of our lives forever,” said Lt. Col. Douglas R. Walter, keynote speaker and commander of 5-20 Inf. “On that day, 3,125 Americans perished in these attacks, along with 353 foreign nationals, including 24 Japanese. Today, we pause to remember the lives lost that day.”
“We pray for all those who grieve today, for those who witnessed and survived the attacks, for those who responded on 9/11 without fear, acted without hesitation and gave their lives to save others,” added Chaplain (Capt.) Christian Bang. “We also pray for the servicemen and women who have been called on to defend our country.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Cahill, battalion command sergeant major, read Psalm 23 before leading those in attendance in a moment of silence.
The 3rd Stryker Brigade soldiers and the JGSDF are participating in Rising Thunder 2013, a joint training exercise aimed at improving and validating the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, I Corps and 7th Infantry Division’s combat readiness as a combined joint task force.
According to Walter, taking time away from the training to reflect on 9/11 as a joint force is a great way to remember those who have given their lives in support of the War on Terror.
“Thank God for the men and women in uniform who, since that day, have fought and died to defend our Nation,” he said. “On distant battlefields and here at home, America’s military, security professionals, and the Families that support them, have shouldered an enormous burden.
“The memory of 9/11 is a constant reminder of the stakes of this battle and I’m honored to stand here with you and our Japanese counterparts as we train to advance the cause of freedom.”
Elements of 3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. have deployed numerous times over the last twelve years to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the War on Terror. Their most recent deployment to Afghanistan ran from late 2011 through 2012.
Cpl. Brian Mackendrick, B Company, 5-20th Inf. was a 5th grader in Mitchellville, Iowa on 9/11. Shortly after the remembrance ceremony, Mackendrick was promoted to corporal. He said that this day is one he won’t soon forget.
“Being promoted on 9/11 is something I’ll never forget,” he said. “I think it’s important to remember the anniversary every year to remind us of why we’re here. That day is one of the reasons I joined the Army.”
“We still live in a very dangerous world,” Walter added. “As our founding fathers understood, our price of freedom is eternal vigilance. As members of the Armed Forces, that is our responsibility, to defend our Nation from those who would do us harm and join with other freedom loving nations, like our Japanese counterparts here today, to ensure the survival of our nations and our ways of life.”