MANNHEIM — A light snow blanketed the ground Feb. 20, adding to the somber mood as the Soldiers of the 18th Military Police Brigade and distinguished guests gathered at the brigade headquarters on Coleman Annex for a memorial rededication ceremony for the fallen Soldiers and Airmen who gave their lives while serving under the colors of the brigade.
The memorial serves to honor the 59 men and women who have lost their lives while supporting the brigade during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th MP Brigade recently returned from its third deployment in five years. During the last deployment, the brigade lost 18 Soldiers. The rededication Feb. 20 was a way to honor those men and women, while also remembering those who came before them.
The memorial itself, a marble pillar set within a sea of smooth white stones, holds a plaque with the names of each of the men and women who gave their lives in support of OEF and OIF. The 18th MP Bde. crest sits at the top of the pillar, a reminder of the common bond between each of the men and women remembered on the memorial. The gathering of Soldiers, friends and family honored these men and women’s lives with a ceremony that highlighted their exceptional
heroism and selfless service.
Col. Mark S. Spindler, 18th MP Bde. commander, spoke proudly of the men and women who gave their lives when he said, “A commander has no greater responsibility or sacred privilege than to memorialize and honor the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians that fell in harm’s way or lost their lives in the tenure of service with the command.”
An invocation by Chaplain (Capt.) Christopher Dickey, 95th Military Police Battalion, started the ceremony and set the tone for the Soldiers who followed him in remembering the fallen.
Sgt. Ryan Blas, HHC, 18th MP Bde., read a scripture from the Psalms, and Sgt. 1st Class Jeanine Lewis, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, performed a song in honor of the heroism of the men and women who gave their lives for their country.
When speaking about the Soldiers listed on the memorial, Colonel Spindler noted how different each individual was.
“They come from all walks of life, with family roots and backgrounds as different as could possibly be. Each of them had their own wonderful story of life. Each had their own dreams, their own hopes for tomorrow,” he said.
But, Colonel Spindler went on to note the common bond that they all shared when he said, “Each of them selflessly joined the profession of arms for service to the common good. And in that service, each had an extraordinary tale of heroism – and an untimely fate.”
Together, Colonel Spindler and Command Sgt. Maj. Bernard McPherson, 18th MP Bde. command sergeant major, placed a wreath in front of the memorial for the fallen, with the vivid yellows and greens of the wreath representing the colors of the Military Police Corps, under which these men and women gave their lives.
After the wreath presentation, the entire audience of Soldiers, families and guests stood to give honor while Command Sergeant Major McPherson read aloud the names of each of the men and women on the memorial.
He paused before reading their names and simply said, “Our fallen comrades.” His words were few, but there are few things one could say that could express the amount of gratitude felt for the sacrifice made by these fallen heroes.
After the last name was read, the ceremony concluded with a lone bugler playing “Taps” – a tribute to those men and women who Colonel Spindler says now reside, “in hallowed glory among the other heroes of our great American story.”