Fort Riley honors children of fallen Soldiers
April 22, 2011
- 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley
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FORT RILEY, Kan., April 22, 2011 -- After receiving his gold medal of remembrance, Colton Munger, son of fallen Soldier Spc. Joshua Munger, turned to 1st Infantry Division Command Sgt. Maj. James Champagne and saluted him.
Munger was among 19 children of fallen comrades to receive recognition during Fort Riley's Ceremony of Remembrance April 10, 2011, during the Month of the Military Child Festival at Marshall Army Airfield, here.
"Our purpose this afternoon is to pay special tribute to our children who have lost a father in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom," said Fort Riley Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Brown. "It is an honor and privilege to salute these brave children of our fallen warriors."
Lexus Wilson, daughter of fallen Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Wilson, is one of the many children recognized who said she felt that honor.
"Not everyone does this for kids who have a fallen parent," she said. "It's a pretty great experience."
Wilson, now 14, was 12 when her father was killed in action.
"It's pretty tough knowing that I wouldn't have my dad around," she said. "Me and my dad were really close, so it was like losing my best friend."
Brown told the children their "parents made the ultimate sacrifice in service of a noble cause" and reminded them "they were good men."
"We all need that reminder to keep us on the important task of maintaining strong bonds of our collective Army family," Brown said. "A family that you all will always be a part of here at Fort Riley with the 1st Infantry Division and with the entire United States Army."
The remembrance ceremony makes Ryan Mackey, son of fallen Soldier Staff Sgt. Bryant Mackey, feel like part of that family, he said.
"I know there (are) people out there - my family and my military family - who care about me still for what he did," he said.
Mackey said it has gotten a little easier as time has passed since his father was killed in action, but it still hurts.
"There were days that I couldn't find the strength to get out of bed - I felt 'this is pointless,'" he said.
Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon, 1st Infantry Division deputy commanding general, welcomed the "19 young men and women who made a sacrifice that no child should ever have to make and that is losing a parent" to this year's ceremony.
Dragon described the gold medals as a reminder for everyone of the ultimate sacrifice made by the servicemembers.
"May each of you children take comfort in knowing that our nation - the United States of America - will forever honor and cherish and remember the great legacy and the service and valor your parents left," he said. "Now, as we reflect on the lives, on the service of your parents, we will no doubt see the deep patriotic sense of passion that these individuals had and felt for their country. They loved their families. They loved our Army, and they loved our nation, and we will always be indebted to them and to you."
Dragon asked those in attendance to keep the children, their families and the servicemen and women who protect the U.S. on a daily basis in their prayers.
"Because as you know, for each of them, there is no mission too difficult and no sacrifice too great because they put duty first," he said.
Children honored in memory of their parents at this year's ceremony were:
Jerry Murray, son of Sgt. Joel Murray
Emma Errebo, daughter of Courtney Hollinsworth
Jennifer and Bridget Knopp, daughters of Sgt. Ralph Mena
Summer Robinson, daughter of Sgt. Jessie Robinson
Colton Munger, son of Spc. Joshua Munger
Kaleigh and Tyler Bachman, children of Sgt. 1st Class Travis Bachman
Jnai and Lexus Wilson, children of Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Wilson
Jami and Emma Deghand, and Craig Thurber, children of Master Sgt. Bernard Deghand
Koby, Stephanie and Ryan Mackey, children of Staff Sgt. Bryant Mackey
Aaron Norton, son of Pfc. Matthew Norton
Elyssa Armstrong and Anthony Sacco, children of Sgt. Dominic Sacco