Soldiers memorialize their fallen

Story and photo by Sgt. Maj. Cameron Porter
21st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

On the day that millions of Americans and people from around the world paused to remember those who perished in New York City, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon when enemies of the United States committed unspeakable acts of terror against America, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command also paused to remember their fallen.

***image1***More than 150 Soldiers from the 21st TSC’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the Special Troops Battalion and the 39th Transportation Battalion stood silent Sept. 11 as a monument was unveiled at Panzer Kaserne’s parade field to honor 19 Soldiers from the 21st TSC who lost their lives in support of operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

“It is a humble gesture that we make to our fallen warriors,” said Maj. Gen. Yves Fontaine, 21st TSC commanding general. “I dedicate this site with great respect, quiet remembrance of each Soldier and tremendous pride in their patriotism.

“By establishing this monument, we honor their service. We honor their lives. We honor their families.”

General Fontaine said the men and women whose names are listed on the monument all answered the call to protect freedom and the American way of life. The youngest was 19 and the oldest was 43. They were military police Soldiers, medics, explosive ordnance specialists and transporters.

To be a Soldier is an honorable profession. It is dangerous. It is selfless, said General Fontaine. Soldiers know the pain of separation. Soldiers know what its like to lose a buddy. Soldiers face the fears of war with honor. Soldiers value the ideals of democracy and freedom.

“The warriors we honor today lived these values and died for the ideals of freedom,” he said. “They paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.”

Attending the ceremony was Sgt. Jason Strickland, who was there at the request of the family of Spc. Matthew Murchison. Specialist Murchison was killed in Iraq
Aug. 4, 2007. Sergeant Strickland was Specialist Murchison’s battle buddy and was with him when the attack occurred.

“It was a huge honor for me to be able to take part in this ceremony,” said Sergeant Strickland, an operations sergeant with the 95th Military Police Battalion. “One of the names listed on this monument represents my battle buddy and my best friend. I’ll never forget him … this monument will help others to never forget as well.”

The monument sits at the northeast corner of Panzer Kaserne’s parade field in Kaiserslautern. The monument is about 25 feet in length.  A large 21st TSC unit insignia is raised and centered at the foot of the monument.

Engraved on the monument are the words “Our fellow countrymen enduring all and giving all that mankind might live in freedom and in peace. They join the glorious band of heroes who have gone before.”

Brass placards are positioned on the monument to the left and to the right with the rank, name, date and location of death, and unit information for each 21st TSC Soldier who died in support of OIF and OEF.