News: Benavidez family march ceremonial first mile to honor their son
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – The soldiers of Company B flanked the Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard, paying silent respect to one of their own during a ceremony held in honor of Staff Sgt. Kenneth Mayne at Manhart Field, April 13.
“Today, we gather to honor the memory of Staff Sgt. Kenneth Mayne, who served with honor and made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation, while serving as a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment,” said Lt. Col. Larry Burris, commander of “Iron Knights” Battalion.
Burris’ words to the soldiers of Company B and the various members of the audience began a litany of affirmation and support for Mayne’s parents, Michelle and Dan Benavidez, whom began a 1,080-mile march at Fort Carson in honor of their son.
Capt. Geoffrey Shraga, an assistant plans officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and Mayne’s former platoon leader, also participated in the honor rally for his former soldier.
“This rally meant so much, because I feel that my former platoon is still my family,” said Shraga. “This is something that is important to both Michelle and I, because we are honoring our family.”
Even those who did not serve with Mayne personally paid their respects to the Benavidez family, who were known for their compassion and reaching out to the soldiers of their son’s company in a time of mutual grief.
“Michelle is like a mother to me; she is always there when I need help or advice,” said Spc. Matt Spradley, an infantryman assigned to Company B, and a native of Deatsville, Ala. “I’m close with the entire family; I spend every weekend with them, and we do all kinds of events. To me, they are my family.”
Following the rally, soldiers of Company B fell in behind the mounted color guard to march the ceremonial first mile to Fort Carson’s Gate 1. The Benavidez family then led the formation with supporters following behind as Fort Carson soldiers saluted and then applauded after the family passed by.
The Benavidez family began the day meeting with their son’s former unit leadership, where they received a tour of the battalion’s operating facilities and spoke with soldiers in the unit.
Following the tour, the group ate lunch with General David Rodriguez, commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command, and Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, before attending the rally.
During the ceremony, Burris took special care in expressing his condolences, as well as those of his soldiers.
“Mrs. Benavidez, I am honored and humbled to have known and served with your son,” said Burris. “Please know I speak not only for myself, but for the soldiers in Company B, and the entire Iron Knights Battalion, when I say we are truly sorry for your loss, and that we are very proud to be part of this honor rally that marks the beginning of your journey.”