FORT BRAGG, N.C. - On December 2, 2010, approximately 400 friends, family members and Soldiers participated in a dedication ceremony for the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Memorial Walk honoring the Group's fallen heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The walkway had been a work in progress for almost six years and consists of 28 cement stones in chronological order, one for each member of the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) who was killed in combat since the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism.
In his remarks, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Commander, Col. Mark Schwartz, took a moment to recognize 17-year-old Jacob Netzel, and all of the other volunteers and contributors who made the walkway possible.
"Not until today has 3rd Group had a Group Memorial to honor our comrades who have paid the ultimate sacrifice through their combat actions on behalf of their fellow operators, their Families, and this great Nation," Schwartz said. "What you see before you today to honor our fallen brothers is greatly because of the leadership, hard work, and determination of Jacob Netzel."
Netzel, a Boy Scout, heard about the Memorial Walk project from his dad, former 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) comptroller. He wanted to take the project on to earn his Eagle Scout Badge, the highest award for a Boy Scout.
Jacob said he chose the Memorial Walkway project because he thought it was an ideal way to remember our fallen heroes, and also to honor his former scoutmaster, SSG Bob White, who was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 26, 2005.
"It's something to support troops that is real. It is more than just putting a sticker on the back of your car. This is really showing support," Netzel said.
Jacob spent the first few months raising enough money to pay for the memorial stones and landscaping. He then had to obtain permission to create the memorial from the Secretary of the Army because there was a moratorium on developing new memorials.
After over two years of waiting, Jacob received the letter of approval from the Department of the Army in June. He then worked with contractors and the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) to complete the project.
"Our Group will always have a place for our Gold Star Families and the Soldiers of this Group past and present to come, honor and pay tribute to the individual and collective sacrifice by our brothers to free the oppressed," Schwartz said.
At the conclusion of the dedication, Gold Star family members and friends came up and placed roses on the newly unveiled stones lining the walkway.

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