News: Fort Carson honors fallen heroes
Story by Pfc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Hundreds of somber faces gazed at the names, newly chiseled into the slate rock memorial before them, personal memories of the fallen playing out behind many of their eyes.
Soldiers, family members, veterans and friends gathered to honor the lives of nine Fort Carson soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, at the Mountain Post Warrior Memorial Ceremony, May 24.
During the ceremony, those in attendance honored the lives of Staff Sgt. Lex Lewis, Master Sgt. Charles Price, Capt. Drew Russell, Capt. Joshua Lawrence, Spc. Christopher Mendonca, Staff Sgt. Allen McKenna, Staff Sgt. Daniel Brown, Pfc. Eric Soufrine and Sgt. Ken Hermogino, all of whom gave their lives during the past year while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, asked the assembled soldiers, families and community members to carry on the legacy of the fallen heroes.
“These soldiers, like all soldiers in service to our country, stepped forward and declared that they would fight for our freedom, the well being of their fellow countrymen and the oppressed people of foreign lands,” said Anderson “Their work and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
Anderson recognized the sacrifices and loss endured by the loved ones of the fallen, and commended the strength displayed by the Gold Star Families.
“As you know, words cannot express the sorrow that we have for each of you due to the loss of your loved one,” Anderson told the family members in attendance. “Today, we honor their sacrifice and pray for your comfort and strength as you make your way ahead in life.
“No piece of paper or token can adequately explain our shared sorrow for the loss of these American heroes and our comrades,” he said. “These monuments of stone before you are simple, humble and a pale reflection of our deep and genuine gratitude for your loved ones service and sacrifice. They are a reminder to all of us, and to those who will follow, of the cost of freedom.”
Following his address, Anderson and Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Delosa, senior enlisted leader, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial. A Soldier from each of the fallen heroes’ units paid formal honors, rendering a salute to their comrades.
The soldiers honored during the ceremony set a great example for those they left behind, said Staff Sgt. John Hammill, infantryman, Company D, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
“Master Sergeant Price would do anything for his soldiers,” Hammill said of his former platoon sergeant. “In our line of work, especially in combat, you don’t know if you are going to come back, but he went out there every day – he was doing it for his family, he was doing it for his soldiers, to make sure that they made it back – even if he had to give up his life for that.”
Following the ceremony, the Gold Star Families paid their respects at the memorial and collected pencil rubbings of their loved ones’ names from the stone surface.
Honoring their fallen comrades is an obligation survivors owe to the Family and friends left behind, said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Weible, platoon sergeant, Troop D, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
“A ceremony like this makes you proud and sad at the same time,” said Weible, who represented McKenna during the ceremony. “I’m honored to be chosen to represent a good Soldier and leader – to show my support to the family.”
Weible said he believes the memorial will stand as a testament of heroism for Americans to look to in the future.
“Our younger generation needs to realize these soldiers didn’t die in vain,” he said. “When I get out of the military, I can come back and show my family the soldier I served with who died in Kandahar.”