Story and photos by Spc. Nathan Thome
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
Joint Task Force Carson’s Families, friends and loved ones gathered May 23 at the Mountain Post Warrior Memorial to honor the memory of the servicemembers who lost their lives fighting in support of Overseas Contingency Operations.
The names of 10 Soldiers and two Airmen were added to the memorial at Kit Carson Park, to remember their sacrifice and honor their lives.
Maj. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, honored the servicemembers and their Families for the sacrifices they made.
“This morning on Fort Carson’s hallowed ground, we remember 12 of our fallen heroes from post, each of whom voluntarily raised their hand in a time of armed conflict, putting the nation’s needs before one’s self, defending our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, ultimately sacrificing all,” said LaCamera.
Twelve heroes joined the 368 fallen military servicemembers whose names are etched into eight memorial stones located just outside of Fort Carson’s Gate 1. A complete list of names was printed on Page 8 in last week’s Mountaineer; available online at http://www.csmng.com/Mountaineer.
“These names not only represent the men and women who sacrificed all, but they represent the American spirit, which answered our nation’s call that fateful September morning, more than 11 years ago,” said LaCamera.
“Our hearts go out to each of the loved ones left behind, the Families; we are forever indebted to your sacrifices,” LaCamera said. “Your resolve has been tested, your strength has been tried, and you are not on this journey alone.”
Upon completing his remarks, LaCamera, and Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Stall, senior enlisted leader, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, laid the Memorial Wreath in front of the head memorial stone.
Following the playing of “Amazing Grace” by John Poss, pipe sergeant, Pikes Peak Highlanders, another 10 Soldiers and two Airmen, who served with the fallen warriors, participated in the Roll Call of Fallen, rendering honors as they marched to the memorial stone.
“I was here to memorialize two Soldiers, Staff Sgt. Christopher Birdwell and Spc. Mabry Anders,” said Sgt. Bonifacio Luna, armored crewman, Company A, 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div. “There’s not a time of day that I don’t think about my battle buddies.”
Luna spoke of his time downrange with Anders, and how, if at any time he had problems with the vehicles, no matter the time of day, Anders was always out there to get the vehicles up and running again.
Birdwell and Luna went to sniper school together, and Luna said they carried each other through that school, so whenever either of them had doubts about passing school, they lifted each other up and said they could do it.
As the ceremony came to a close, Families, friends and loved ones lined up at the memorial to make a pencil rubbing of their servicemember’s name on the stone.
Pam Birdwell, mother of Staff Sgt. Christopher Birdwell, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., attended the ceremony and said, “It was very well done and was very respectful. These kinds of ceremonies are never easy to get through. They did a great job. They honored each Soldier, and I’m glad they have the memorial on post where people can go and honor their fallen.”