News: Raptors remember those who paid ultimate sacrifice
Story by Staff Sgt. Bryan Lewis
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – “If it be my lot to die, let me do so with courage and honor in a manner which will bring the greatest harm to the enemy and please, oh Lord, protect and guide those I shall leave behind,” an excerpt from “A Soldier’s Prayer” by Gen. George S Patton II.
Hundreds of Soldiers and civilians stationed at Kandahar Airfield participated in a Memorial Day prayer dinner May 26, hosted by the Task Force Raptor ministry team as a way to pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
“I think it’s especially important for Soldiers to recognize Memorial Day because the day should be about recognizing those whom have fallen before them,” said Col. Paul A. Mele, TF Raptor commander and event guest speaker. “Their [today’s Soldiers] honorable and committed service to the nation and their team mates is the best way to honor the fallen.”
The ceremony started with the audience singing “God Bless America” and “America, the Beautiful.”
“Memorial Day is a day of remembrance to me. I’ve deployed three times and during my first deployment, my unit lost 11 Soldiers and one interpreter … who chose to come with us when he didn’t have to,” said Staff Sgt. Michael R. Campbell, TF Raptor chaplain’s assistant. "For me it’s a day to remember all of those people who gave their lives … to protect our country.”
Mele began his speech with biographies of those whose tombstones were visible on the prayer dinner poster displayed throughout the task force’s work areas. The two veterans mentioned were Marine Cpl. Joshua D. Snyder and Marine Cpl. Norman Anderson, who both died in Iraq in 2005.
“As President Reagan once said, above all this nation must remain free,” Mele said. “The sacrifices they [those who died while in military service] made have allowed us the opportunities and abundances in America to choose any path we want.”
The overall theme of Mele’s speech was about Soldiers displaying the traits of character, competency and commitment to honor the memory of the fallen.
“The people who have chosen to serve are some of the finest in our nation, and without all of the sacrifices they’ve made, our nation would be a very different place,” Mele added.