173rd paratroopers honor fallen MP for service, sacrifice

173rd Airborne Brigade
Story by Staff Sgt. Bruce Cobbeldick

Date: 12.20.2013
Posted: 12.26.2013 00:23
News ID: 118633
173rd paratroopers honor fallen MP for service, sacrifice

VICENZA, Italy - What began as a small idea for the military police platoon, expanded into a community-wide event as more than 120 soldiers, family members and civilian workers converged on Caserma Del Din to honor a fallen paratrooper at a memorial run held here Dec. 20.

Sgt. Enrique Mondragon, a military policeman assigned to military police platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), was killed in action Dec. 24, 2012, while on a dismounted patrol in Afghanistan.

When newly arrived 1st Lt. Patrick D. Cunningham arrived at the platoon, he noticed that it seemed the loss of Mondragon weighed heavily on the platoon, so organize the event to honor the paratrooper and to bring closure to the team.

“I could only imagine how an event like this could emotionally crush a platoon - especially on Christmas Eve,” said Cunningham.

According to the soldiers who worked with him, Mondragon was an extremely caring noncommissioned officer who exemplified "what right looks like."

When the unit was training for the Best Warrior Competition, Mondragon led the way during the ruckmarch event and ran back and forth to motivate his teammates, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Espejo, the MP platoon sergeant recalled one time.

During the five kilometer run, some ran in formation, some ran with bulletproof vests, while others ran for speed or at their own pace.

It “was a great turnout,” said Cunningham.

Many of the participants expressed excitement and thanks for the event because “Mondragon was such an incredible person who deserved to be remembered.”