• Hailee Cook, 8, stands with her mother and brother following the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Hailee's dad, Spc. Michael Cook, was killed June 6, 2011, in Iraq. Stones etched with the names of 43 fallen Soldiers including Hailee's dad were unveiled during the ceremony. The central walkway in Victory Park is now lined with 498 stones bearing the names of Big Red One Soldiers who have died during recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Sacrifice

    Hailee Cook, 8, stands with her mother and brother following the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Hailee's dad, Spc. Michael Cook, was killed June 6, 2011, in Iraq. Stones etched with the names of 43 fallen Soldiers including Hailee's dad...

  • Friends and Family of Pfc. Ramon Mora, Jr., make an etching of Mora's stone following the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Stones etched with the names of 43 Soldiers including Mora who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past year were unveiled during the ceremony. The central walkway in Victory Park is now lined with 498 stones bearing the names of Big Red One Soldiers who have died during recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Stone Etchings

    Friends and Family of Pfc. Ramon Mora, Jr., make an etching of Mora's stone following the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Stones etched with the names of 43 Soldiers including Mora who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past year...

  • Fort Riley Senior Command Team Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie and Command Sgt. Maj. Miguel Rivera pause for a moment of silence in front of Victory Park's newest memorial stones during the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Stones etched with the names of 43 Soldiers who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past year were unveiled during the ceremony. The central walkway in Victory Park is now lined with 498 stones bearing the names of Big Red One Soldiers who have died during recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Moment of Silence

    Fort Riley Senior Command Team Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie and Command Sgt. Maj. Miguel Rivera pause for a moment of silence in front of Victory Park's newest memorial stones during the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Stones etched with...

  • Soldiers pass a wreath dedicated to the 1st Infantry Division's fallen Soldiers following the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Stones etched with the names of 43 Soldiers who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past year were unveiled during the ceremony. The central walkway in Victory Park is now lined with 498 stones bearing the names of Big Red One Soldiers who have died during recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Wreath dedication

    Soldiers pass a wreath dedicated to the 1st Infantry Division's fallen Soldiers following the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Stones etched with the names of 43 Soldiers who have died in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past year were...

  • Mikey Cook checks out the 1st Infantry Division Fallen Soldier Memorial Statue following the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Mikey's dad, Spc. Michael Cook, was killed June 6, 2011, in Iraq. Stones etched with the names of 43 fallen Soldiers including Mikey's dad were unveiled during the ceremony. The central walkway in Victory Park is now lined with 498 stones bearing the names of Big Red One Soldiers who have died during recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Victory Park

    Mikey Cook checks out the 1st Infantry Division Fallen Soldier Memorial Statue following the Victory Park Ceremony June 13 on Fort Riley. Mikey's dad, Spc. Michael Cook, was killed June 6, 2011, in Iraq. Stones etched with the names of 43 fallen...

FORT RILEY, Kan. -- The light breeze that swirled around Victory Park June 13 carried with it memories of 43 brave 1st Infantry Division Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the past year. Memories of a daddy who loved to play video games with his little girl and of a young man who loved to surf and ride horses were released as red felt covers were lifted to reveal the names etched into the park's newest memorial stones.

"This is a special place, this is our hallowed ground," Fort Riley Senior Commander Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie said. "Here we honor those who have fallen and reflect on the strength of those who have gone before us."

The Victory Park Ceremony, conducted annually in conjunction with the division's Victory Week, honors Soldiers who have died while assigned or attached to the 1st Infantry Division during a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. The 43 Soldiers honored June 13 served as advisors, security partners, trainers, members of the Devil, Dagger, Duke and Dauntless brigades, and, most simply, as American Soldiers working to help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Soldiers will always be remembered in the 1st Infantry Division, we will always celebrate them and their Families," MacWillie said. "They are not forgotten because they will always belong to the Big Red One."

Samantha Cook is grateful for the Big Red One and the Army family that has embraced her since her husband, Spc. Michael Cook died in Iraq June 6, 2011. Although more than a year has passed since her husband was killed in a rocket attack, Samantha said she still feels his presence every day and knows he was with her as his stone was revealed in Victory Park.

"Mike was here today," she said. "They all were here today."
Stephanie Cintron, widow of Spc. Marcos Cintron, said Victory Park will always be a special place for her, a place where she and her family will go to celebrate the great husband and loving father with whom she shared her life.

"We will absolutely come back to the park to honor him," she said. "We will come back as much as we have to."

Page last updated Wed June 13th, 2012 at 00:00