3rd ID Honors Fallen at Warriors Walk
January 27, 2010
<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </b>-The cold, constant rain and the sky's gray clouds seemed fitting for the somber tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk, Jan. 21. Family Members, friends and comrades gathered on a soggy Cottrell Field, huddled under several tents in the pouring rain, to commemorate and honor the memory of three fallen Soldiers.
The ceremony honored Pfc. Jaiciae L. Pauley, Staff Sgt. Briand T. Williams and Spc. Jonathon M. Sylvestre, loyal Soldiers who died while serving the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.
As part of the Warriors Walk tradition, a young Eastern Redbud tree is planted in honor of each fallen Soldier, marked with a personalized granite marker and an American flag. The three Soldiers honored bring the Warriors Walk count to 424 trees, which stand as a living memorial of 3rd ID Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"Today, we immortalize these three intrepid volunteers in the hearts and minds of all who visit this sacred grove - this Warriors Walk," Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd ID deputy commanding general-rear, told the crowd. "With a granite marker laid beneath these Eastern Redbud trees, we enshrine the memory of these three American Soldiers in enduring remembrance of their service."
Private First Class Jaiciae L. Pauley, 29, of Austell, Ga., died Dec. 11 in Kirkuk, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID. As a line medic with one year of active service, Pfc. Pauley trained hard to bring essential skills to his team, said Brig. Gen. Phillips.
Friends say he had a warm and noble heart, he always had a smile, and he never complained.
"Private First Class Pauley was a quiet guy unless you knew him," said fellow medic and comrade Spc. Andrew Servi, 1/30 Inf. "If you knew him, he'd open up to you. When we were at school together, you could always depend on him."
"He was one of my best Soldiers I had in my squad," he added.
Staff Sergeant Briand T. Williams, 25, of Valdosta, Ga., died Nov. 22, in Numaniyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID, stationed at Fort Benning. Staff Sergeant Williams is survived by his wife Atihya, daughter Briana, and son Antonio, who was born Dec. 26.
After joining the Army out of high school in 2002, Staff Sgt. Williams earned a promotion and respect among his Soldiers, with many of them referring to him as "Sgt. Will." With seven years of active military service, including one deployment to Afghanistan and two to Iraq, friends say Staff Sgt. Williams was a resourceful leader and mentor, said Brig. Gen. Phillips.
"I read that he could be tough on his Soldiers, but only because he cared about their lives and wanted to challenge them to be their best," Brig. Gen. Phillips said.
"I'll miss his company," said fellow comrade Staff Sgt. Joseph Nicholas, 1/10 FA. "We talked a lot about work and Family life and stuff ... He was a good friend. It means a lot to the unit that we have a place to visit besides his grave. It gives me a chance to come up here to his tree and spend some time with him and just remember him for who he was."
Specialist Jonathon M. Sylvestre, 21, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died Nov. 2 in Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1/10 FA, 3rd HBCT, 3rd ID.
Specialist Sylvestre joined the Army in June 2007 after graduating high school in his home state of Colorado and had one year of active military service.
Shortly after his death, servicemembers from the Army and the Air Force lined the streets of Peterson Air Force Base to pay tribute as the fallen Soldier was returned to his native Colorado soil to rest in the national cemetery in Denver.
"His command team said he seemed like a quiet guy until you got to know him," Brig. Gen. Phillips said. "But then his humor would come out when things got tough. His sense of humor could be counted on to lighten the mood."
As the tree dedication ceremony came to a close, the solemn crowd emptied while the rain continued to fall. Meanwhile, the 424 trees at Warriors Walk stand alive and strong - as do the memories for each Soldier they represent.
"With these young Redbuds just taking root in this Georgia soil, so too does our remembrance of these patriots, deep in its claim on hearts heavy with sorrow," said Brig. Gen Phillips in his final words of the ceremony. "These who volunteered, volunteered for us. We will not forget."