Spc. David A. Rivera, a bugler with the 1st Cavalry Division Band, plays "Taps" while Sgt. Ver Venir Astorga, the firing team noncommissioned officer in charge, renders honors as the 1st Cavalry Division Memorial comes to a close at Fort Hood, Texas Nov. 15.

FORT HOOD, Texas - Families, friends and service members of the First Team gathered in the 1st Cavalry Division Memorial Chapel Nov. 14 to say their final farewells and honor the lives of four fallen troopers.

"We gather not only to mark their passing, but to remember what they have passed on to us all," said Lt. Col. Archie Davis, the 1st Cavalry Division Rear Detachment deputy commander. "We gather to thank these heroes for their contributions as Soldiers and as citizens, and to remember them as the men and Soldiers they were."

"Helen Keller once said, 'We could learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in this world,'" continued Davis, a native of Riviera Beach, Fla. "So today we listen to these words of Helen Keller and realize that while today is not a joyous day, we must learn something from the examples of courage embodied in these four American heroes who we honor."

Close friends and leaders of the warriors spoke about the Soldiers.

"I have served in the same company as Cpl. Adam J. Chitjian for over four years," said Staff Sgt. Jason Anderson, of Co. E, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. "'Pappy,' as the platoon knew him, was the Soldier that people would go to for advice or if they just needed a laugh. Although he only had four years of Army experience, he had more life experience than any of us. Pappy could sit for hours just telling people stories of his past."

Anderson shared moments in Iraq and how Chitjian loved the Army and his job.

"This unique man made tremendous sacrifices in order to join the brotherhood of Soldiers," Anderson continued. "Without question, he was a truly great man."

Another Soldier who was remembered was Spc. Vincent Madero, of Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.

"Every Soldier who looses his life in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom has friends, family and fellow Soldiers that will always love and remember them. Spc. Vincent Madero is certainly no different," said Spc. Rolland Kirchoff, also of Headquarters Battery. "For the people who knew him best, they truly loved him and cared for him deeply. We have many wonderful memories of a man that loved life and lived it to the fullest."

Kirchoff talked of conversations he had with Madero's family in the time since his passing; told of how they had laughed and cried when they heard stories of Madero, both home and in Iraq.

"Vincent will always be missed and is now forever a Steel Dragon. I can say with extreme confidence, this Soldier truly 'walked the walk', and 'talked the talk'," said Kirchoff. "Without question, his loyalty, commitment and dedication will be missed by us all."

As Chap. (Maj.) Daniel Kinjorski, the 1st Cavalry Division Rear Detachment chaplain, ended the ceremony by addressing the families, friends and fellow Soldiers in attendance, he quoted scripture to help those grieving to understand the pain they are feeling.

"The Latin definition of comfort is to strengthen greatly. The Greek word means to come along side and help. It is the same word used for the Spirit of God in the book of St. John," said Kinjorski, currently of Fort Hood. "The greatest comfort you can have during this time of grief is knowing that you never face it alone. You may be in the darkest valleys, feeling abandoned, having nowhere else to turn, believing that all hope is lost... but you will never be alone."

"Remember Psalm 23:4... Even though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. In the darkness of our grief, God quietly says to us 'Cast your cares upon me because I love you and will never leave you nor forsake you.'"

"As we honor the memory of our loved ones today, our challenge is to accept God's comfort that allows hope and faith to sustain us," Kinjorski concluded.

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