Fort Riley remembers Sept. 11, honors those who served
September 16, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - As flags across the nation flew at half staff, Fort Riley paused the morning of Sept. 11 to honor those who had fallen in the terrorist attacks eight years earlier, to honor those who have fallen since in support of the global war on terror and to honor prisoners of war and missing in action servicemembers.
Col. (promotable) Randal Dragon, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley deputy commanding officer, remembered the "defining moment" in the nation's history as a horrendous and tragic attack, but a moment that, he said, reaffirmed America's resolve that freedom would not be taken away.
"On that day and in nearly 100 months since, as their predecessors have done when faced with adversity, many, many have answered the call to duty - a call that asks ordinary people who are living ordinary lives to respond with extraordinary courage in extraordinary circumstances and make extraordinary sacrifices," Dragon said.
For that reason, in addition to honoring the police, firefighters, armed forces personnel and civilians killed on Sept. 11, Fort Riley honored Soldiers who have died since in the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"They were heroes by choice, they were heroes by chance. They were loved and they were lost," said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Gary Fisher, deputy division chaplain. "The names of the fallen we will hear today are more than just names. They are heroes."
Thirteen names of servicemembers from Fort Riley who had died in Iraq or Afghanistan over the last year were added the Global War on Terror Memorial, the site for the 9-11 Commemoration and POW/MIA Remembrance Ceremony.
The granite pentagon base and black marble towers of the monument symbolize the sacrifice made by those that died on 9-11 and by servicemembers, said Col. John Dvoracek, deputy garrison commander for transformation. The monument was dedicated in 2004 and names have been added every year since.
Jim and Cindy Butler, Wellsville, Kan., have been at every dedication ceremony. Their son Sgt., Jacob Lee Butler, a cavalry scout from Fort Riley, was the first name inscribed on the monument after he died in 2003.
"We're honoring our son and all that have given for the freedom of this country," Jim Butler said.
The Butlers said they choose to attend every year because they want to remember, in addition to their son's sacrifice, the sacrifice of those that keep giving.
"All the young soldier that are out there that are still surviving and still giving, it's very important to remember them," Jim Butler said. "I've said it time and time again, and I'll say it again, no matter how you feel about this, don't forget the men and women who support this country. They are the backbone of this country."
Firefighters, and police officers, like Dan Breci, captain of operations at the Junction City Police Department, lined the back row of the audience, as they, too, came to remember their fallen comrades.
"It's a remembrance of our fallen officers, firefighters and soldiers on a day that no one is every going to forget," Breci said. "It's a day of remembrance. It's our day - a day that a lot of patriots had to give the ultimate sacrifice."
Breci added that Sept. 11 was the day that the most law enforcement officers ever were killed in the line of duty on the same day.
"So that's a big day to us, and Fort Riley is where we can come in our area - Junction City, Manhattan, Fort Riley - to pay tribute.
A 21-gun salute and a wreath laying added to the ceremonial events.
The thirteen names added to the memorial were: Anthony M. Carbullido, David J. Todd, Jr., Bruce E. Hays, Bruno G. Desolenni, Anthony Davis, Benjamin B. Tollefson, Daniel J. Thompson, Brian. M. Bunting, Francis L. Toner IV, Florence B. Choe, William D. Vile, Steven Hutchinson and Kevin A. Dupont.
"Remember these heroes; remember their Families and their loved ones; and remember their extraordinary sacrifices," Dragon said. "Those that are etched there ask little more from us than to remember them and to continue the mission for which they paid so high a price for."