News: Three Service Members Recognized for Inclusion to the North Dakota Memorial to the Fallen in the Global War on Terrorism
Story by Pfc. Jessica Raasch
BISMARCK, N.D. — Two hundred family members, community leaders, friends and fellow service members assembled at the North Dakota Memorial to the Fallen in the Global War on Terrorism Sept. 10 in remembrance of the service members who lost their lives since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The memorial honors service members with strong ties to North Dakota. It was dedicated on Sept. 11, 2009, by recognizing 21 service members who had lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each service member has their name etched on the memorial.
This year’s ceremony recognized three additional service members for inclusion:
• Sgt. Michael E. Bitz, United States Marine Corps, formerly of Wishek, N.D.
o Killed in Action in Nasiriya, Iraq, March 23, 2003
• Pfc. Jonathan C. Yanney, United States Army, formerly of Hettinger, N.D.
o Killed in Action in Argandab, Afghanistan, August 18, 2009
• Spc. Keenan A. Cooper, United States Army, formerly of Wahpeton, N.D.
o Killed in Action in Yakuta, Afghanistan, July 5, 2010
The ceremony began at 2 p.m. with Family and friends placing yellow roses on the centerpiece of the memorial. The roar of engines then filled the air as members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard rode into the memorial plaza area on 45 motorcycles and parked behind the memorial. Many of the motorcycles displayed U.S., MIA/POW, and Honor and Remember flags. Following the ‘ride-in’, Col. (Retired) Curtis Juhala sang the National Anthem as members of the North Dakota National Guard Funeral Honors raised the flag to half-staff. The invocation and benediction was led by Chaplain (Maj.) Maurice Millican.
Guest speakers included Gov. John Hoeven, Congressman Earl Pomeroy, Bismarck Mayor John Warford, Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general and Dina Ferderer of New Salem, N.D. whose son, Spc. Dennis ‘D.J.’ Ferderer, Jr., is honor by the memorial. Ferderer spoke on behalf of all of the Families of the fallen. Connie Sprynczynatyk served as emcee for the ceremony.
“When our brave servicemen and women put on the uniform, they put their lives on the line, and some pay the ultimate price so we can be free,” Hoeven said. “This memorial honors those patriots who have served and sacrificed for our state and nation, and pays tribute to the families and friends who continue to mourn their loss. We will never forget the incredible sacrifice they have made on our behalf.
American flags filled the area as several organizations provided color guards – the Bismarck Mounted Police, U.S. Navy recruiters from Bismarck, and Bismarck AmVets Post 9.
“Since terrorists attacked the United States nine years ago on September 11, 2001, the men and women of our armed forces have sacrificed tremendously to defend our freedom and way of life,” said Pomeroy. “Today we honor those members who have lost their lives in defense of that freedom. We must never forget their sacrifices and work every day to honor them.”
The recognition ceremony featured a rifle volley salute fired by combined team of the Veteran of Foreign Wars – American Legion, Mandan, N.D. Taps was performed by Dillon Parker, wearing his Century High School Patriot uniform.
“The GWOT Memorial, a special place honor soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of this country, is an example of the long-term cooperation between the City of Bismarck and the North Dakota National Guard,” said Warford.
At conclusion of the ceremony, members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard formed a circle barricade to allow family and friends to privately gather at the memorial. Family members placed set of I.D. tags for each of the fallen on the memorial’s centerpiece. The centerpiece is designed in the traditional memorial arrangement of a helmet mounted on an inverted M-4 rifle along with a pair of boots.
“Those honored by this memorial stepped up and answered America’s call to serve; and did so willingly as members of a free society,” said Sprynczynatyk. “Their duty and responsibility was clear to them, to serve in uniform. And our duty and responsibility to remember is just as clear. As we honor their sacrifice, we will also celebrate their lives of service and dedication to our nation. We will never forget.”
A joint venture between the City of Bismarck and the North Dakota National Guard, the memorial is located near the Guard headquarters at the entrance of Fraine Barracks in Bismarck. The memorial and its maintenance are funded by private donations through the nonprofit North Dakota National Guard Foundation. The memorial is open to the public 24 hours a day.
This work, Three Service Members Recognized for Inclusion to the North Dakota Memorial to the Fallen in the Global War on Terrorism, by PFC Jessica Raasch, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.