"You Will Always Be an American Hero"
December 27, 2007
FORT HOOD, Texas - "A true American hero has fallen," said Sgt. 1st Class John Shatto. With the deployment coming to an end some 1st Cavalry Division families are celebrating joyous reunions with their Soldiers. However, the harsh reality that some Soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice during their 15-month fight against terrorism became evident at the 1st Cavalry Division Memorial Chapel Dec. 20.
Friends, family and fellow troopers gathered to honor the memory the Las Vegas, Nev., native and hero Sgt. Alfred Paredez, Jr., during the division's monthly memorial service.
"True heroism is fittingly sober and is very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost," said Lt. Col. Archie Davis quoting the great American sports figure and three-time Grand Slam winner Arthur Ashe.
The deputy commander of the 1st Cavalry Division's rear detachment later asked the question, "Where do we get such great patriots like this young man," and genuinely answered, "(From) families that instill that patriotism and moral courage; families that build strong foundations and values, families who prepare their sons and daughters for life of service, of responsibility and devotion to duty."
And devotion to duty was something the noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, did not lack. Shatto said that Paredez took his job of training Soldiers very seriously.
He remembered on one occasion he discovered Paredez in the back of his Bradley giving a detailed block of instructions on how to operate the various components associated with the infantry fighting vehicle to his attentive wide-eyed troopers.
"I could easily tell that he took great pride in the knowledge and experience he was able to instill in every Soldier he encountered," Shatto said. "It takes a lot to earn the respect of your Soldiers."
He added that molding others is a great responsibility, but Paredez handled the responsibility of sergeant, as well as son, friend, husband and father gracefully.
"You are truly admired for your dedication, selfless service and tremendous contributions to family, our Army and to our great nation. You volunteered to serve your country; you trained your Soldiers, earning their unconditional respect," Shatto said. "You raised our family through the worst and best times. You stood up and fought for those who could not fight for themselves... and you will always be an American hero."
Davis quoted former President John F. Kennedy, "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
"My fellow citizens of the world ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man," Davis said.
The Riviera Beach, Fla., native concluded even forty-seven years later, America's sons and daughters continue to live up to this challenge by doing their part and Paredez was one of those people.