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    NY National Guard unveils memorial wall commemorating 39 Soldiers and Airmen

    NYNG Fallen Heroes Memorial Wall

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pietrantoni | New York Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Todd Lobraico Sr., a Sherman,...... read more read more



    Story by Eric Durr 

    New York National Guard

    CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, CORTLANDT, NY-New York National Guard leaders unveiled a memorial to the 39 New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 at Camp Smith Training Site on Thursday, Feb. 27.

    The 150 people who attended the event included local government leaders, Soldiers, Airmen, veterans and family members of the Army and Air National Guard members commemorated by the memorial.

    The memorial, located at the training site's O'Brien Hall guest housing facility, features photographs of each of the Soldiers or Airmen silhouetted against an American flag. The photographs are mounted on a wall painted with an American flag backdrop just inside the entrance to the building.

    Additional photographs can be added.

    The first death commemorated took place during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the most recent deaths-four Airmen of the 106th Rescue Wing killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq-occurred in 2018 during operations against the Islamic State.

    Eleven of the Soldiers on the wall served as part of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry in Baghdad in 2004 and 2005 under the command of retired New York Army National Guard Colonel Jeff Slack. Slack, a Long Island resident, said he made the several hours long trip to and from the training site because he owed it to those men.

    “To not be here would be impossible,” Slack said.

    The permanent memorial replaces a temporary one, which was initially located in the building and added to as Soldiers and Airmen were killed or died of wounds in combat zones over the years.

    "Because so many New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen pass through Camp Smith during training, we felt this would be an appropriate place to remember the Soldiers and Airmen who have been called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice," explained Lt. Col. Robert Zizolfo the training center manager.

    In his remarks Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, said that the memorial wall is also a way to mark the sacrifice that the families of the men and women pictures have made.

    "We can never thank you enough for sharing your loved ones with our nation's military forces," Shields said.

    Shields pointed out that New York Guard Airmen and Soldiers were the first members of the military to engage in what the military calls the Global War on Terror.

    On Sept. 11, 2001, New York Air National Guardsmen assigned to the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome, New York responded when notified that four airliners had been hijacked and began scrambling fighter planes. That evening New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan were on sight at the ruins of the World Trade Center, Shields said.

    Since then the New York National Guard has sent its 42nd Infantry Division to Iraq and its 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan. New York Air National Guard members have repeatedly deployed as part of Air Expeditionary Wings and the New York Air National Guard's 107th and 174th Attack Wings fly remotely piloted aircraft on combat patrols every day, Shields said.

    In addition, Shields added, 650 members of the 42nd Infantry Division headquarters will begin deploying to locations in the Middle East in the next week or two.

    Staff Sgt. Todd J. Lobraico Jr.—known as “TJ” is one of the Airmen pictured on the wall.
    A member of the 105th Airlift Wing’s Security Forces Squadron, Lobraico was killed by small arms fire Sept. 5, 2013, when insurgents attacked his patrol near Bagram Air Base. His actions were credited with saving the lives of other Airmen in his unit and the 20-year old was awarded the Bronze Star with V for Valor posthumously.

    On Feb. 27 his grandparents, Tim and Kathy Cole from Sherman, Connecticut, said they were pleased by the commemoration.

    “We think it is wonderful,” Tim Cole said.

    “Anything, anybody can do to remember these people is angelic,” Kathy Cole added.

    TJ’s father and mother –Senior Master Sgt. Todd Lobraico Sr. and Col. Linda Rohatsch -- who are both members of the Air National Guard were also there for the unveiling.

    Bob Allen, whose son Lt. Louis Allen was killed in Tikrit, Iraq in 2005, traveled from his home in Milford, Pennsylvania to be there for the memorial event.

    “My son died doing what he loved,” Allen said.

    Members of the New York Militia and the New York National Guard have fought in all of America’s wars, said Courtney Burns, the director of the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Spring, N.Y.

    “In the famous phrase of Abraham Lincoln, thousands of New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, like these we honor today ‘gave their last full measure of devotion’ in all of these conflicts,” Burns said.

    “Their sacrifice is recognized and memorialized in monuments and plaques across New York State and throughout all of our armories. It is in that tradition that we dedicate this memorial wall,” he added.

    Camp Smith Training Site, located in the Town of Cortlandt, is the New York National Guard's premier training site. The New York National Guard has used the location for training since the 1880s.



    Date Taken: 02.28.2020
    Date Posted: 02.28.2020 12:34
    Story ID: 364144

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