Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey Ashmen, 3rd ID, gives a speech during the Sgt. William Jasper Ceremony, March 16, at Madison Square in Savannah.

HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - The audience was motionless as two trumpets played taps. A few spectators jumped when the silence was broken by the sound of a firing party.

It was the annual Sgt. William Jasper ceremony, March 16, at Madison Square in downtown Savannah. The ceremony is held on the evening before St. Patrick's Day to honor retired, active duty and reserve military, and various government officials.

"Sergeant Jasper was a Soldier and it seems appropriate to us to have as many branches of service as possible here to honor not just what Sgt. Jasper did but to honor all of our military," said Walter Crawford, the Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick's Day parade. "It's a great honor just to be here with all these veterans who came out to the ceremony."

In June of 1776, in a battle against the British, a shot took down the flag post allowing the flag to lie on the ground. Sergeant William Jasper retrieved the flag in full view of the enemy and created a makeshift pole for the flag to fly again. For his actions, President John Rutledge presented Sgt. Jasper with his own dress sword at a review held after the battle.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Ashmen, 3rd Infantry Division, spoke at the ceremony, sharing the background of Sgt. Jasper and sharing also modern stories of Soldiers who performed heroic actions.

"This is an opportunity to tell the story of Sgt. Jasper and the stories of all the other Sgt. Jaspers who have and who continue to serve with us," said Command Sgt. Maj. Ashmen. "It's an honor to share the stories of those who have gone before - who showed us what courage looks like."

The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade provided the firing squad which fired after a wreath was laid at the base of a monument of Sgt. Jasper. The statue depicts him raising a flag.

"It was very interesting to be involved [in the ceremony]," said Pvt. Jeremy Huggins, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd CAB, and member of the firing party. "It's really surprising to see how many people come out and support the military by coming out to a ceremony like this. I've never been to a ceremony like this."

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