News: Raising the flag to remember 9/11
By Cpl. Raguragavan Sreetharan
FARAH, Afghanistan – Company D, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, hosted a flag ceremony Sept. 11 at Joint Combat Outpost Pusht Rod in honor of all the heroes who lost their lives 10 years ago during the 9/11 attacks.
The tenth anniversary marked the first time that the United States colors had ever been flown over the JCOP and Pusht Rod district.
The flag was a gift from Congressman Timothy Bishop of New York to Capt. Anthony Hoefler, the company commander. The flag had previously been flown over the United States Capitol.
To pay honor to those heroes who lost their lives on 9/11, the company constructed a flag pole to fly the Stars and Stripes. Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bracken, company fire support non-commissioned officer, and a group of soldiers constructed the flag pole from spare metal parts found around the JCOP and two old soccer goal posts.
During the flag ceremony, soldiers reflected on the tragic events of 9/11 and their personal reasons for serving.
“Americans have lost a lot of lives and a lot of blood in Afghanistan to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil,” said Hoefler. “Each of you made a conscious choice to sacrifice your personal freedoms to protect the liberties of Americans at home and abroad.”
Hoefler closed by saying, “All of you serve our nation in the same spirit of selfless service that the firemen, police officers and EMTs who served so bravely on that historically tragic day.”
Lt. Col. Patrick J. Stevenson, battalion commander of Task Force Lonestar, shared in Hoefler’s sentiments as he was personally touched by tragedy when a close friend perished in the attack on the Pentagon.
“You are part of the one percent of our nation that defends our freedoms, that is willing to engage and destroy the enemy,” he said. “You ensure that the torch of liberty burns brightly, come what may.”
Soldiers across the company believe that service members relate to the Sept. 11 attacks in a very unique way.
“It is my duty as an American to support my country and fight for those who were lost on that tragic day,” said Sgt.Barry Spurgin, with Company G, 1st Bn., 67th Armor Reg. “After five years of service and three deployments, my passion to defend the United States still burns strongly because I always remember our mission, and those who have already paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
The morning of Sept. 11, the company conducted a mounted patrol in the Pusht Rod district to assess the Masaw trench, a canal necessary to provide irrigation for the upcoming planting season. This type of mission and assessment is key to the counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan.
“Helping the government and populace provide for their own needs is the key to success in Afghanistan,” said 1st Sgt. Jon Martinez, company first sergeant. “As the Afghan National Security Forces and government earn the support of the local populace, the enemy will lose its ability to intimidate and fight.”
He closed by saying, “[Counterinsurgency] operations will ensure our mission here is successful and that the lives we have lost in the 10 years since 9/11 will not be in vain.”