JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Opening ceremonies of the Civil War re-enactment at Fort Steilacoom Park May 1 dedicated the event to Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldier, Specialist Aaron Aamot.

During the ceremony, a bell rang 22 times, once for each of the Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment who have died in Afghanistan, as their names were read.

Among the many people in period dress, Aamot's parents, Mark and Julie, were in attendance at the event.

Captain Luke Bushatz, formerly a platoon leader in Aamot's company said men from the unit jumped at the chance to honor their fallen comrade.

"We're here to honor one of our own," Bushatz said.

Seeing the crowd of spectators and the re-enacters pay tribute to their fallen brother was a truly gratifying experience, he said.

"Aamot was involved in re-enacting Civil War battles since he was a child," Bushatz said.

The dedication and ceremony paid fitting tribute to Aamot's life, he said.

Aamot was born on April 12, 1987. He grew up a Washington state native in rural Whatcom County and graduated from Ferndale High School in 2006.

After high school graduation, he enlisted in the Army and completed basic and advanced infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga. During basic training he befriended Gary Gooch, who was killed alongside Aamot in Afghanistan.

Aamot and Gooch died Nov. 5 in Jelewar, Afghanistan, from wounds inflicted when their Stryker vehicle was destroyed by an improvised explosive device. Both Soldiers were 22-years-old when they were killed.

Aamot was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division where he served as a Stryker driver.

Prior to his death, Aamot had been a Civil War re-enacter with one of the groups that took part in the Fort Steilacoom event.

He was reportedly known for his love of history, especially the American Civil War. Aamot's ancestor, Horace Hinds, served in the Civil War in the 16th New York Infantry Regiment and is buried in the Fort Steilacoom Cemetery.

Aamot, who was profoundly affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, enlisted into the Army to serve his country.

As the acrid smell of gunpowder and billowing smoke of cannon fire cleared, spectators walked through an encampment of canvas tents and many stopped to view photographs and articles about Aamot - the patriot and the historical re-enacter.

Rick Wood is a reporter with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper,

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16