Special Forces Soldiers Pay Tribute to Fallen Comrades
April 3, 2008
BAGRAM AIRBASE, Afghanistan (Courtesy of CJTF-82 Public Affairs, Apr. 2, 2008) - Early Thursday morning the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan honored two fallen comrades in a memorial ceremony.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William Neil and Air Force Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr. were killed in action March 22 while conducting combat operations near Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan. Both men were killed when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
"Their sacrifice exemplifies all that we value in Special Operations and the armed forces," said Lt. Col. Lynn Ashley, Special Operations Task Force commander. The memorial took place during a bright sunny day at Bagram Airbase. Nevertheless, there wasn't a dry eye once members of their team honored them with remembrances.
"Bill Neil and Will Jefferson were decent men they were honest, passionate, fun to be with," said one team member. "They loved life and they loved their families.
Neil was a Special Forces soldier with C, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Fort Bragg, NC. He was a dedicated soldier who served in both the Army and Navy. He took a break in service to work on Wall Street but traded in his suits for a Green Beret.
Jefferson was a combat controller assigned to 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, NC. Prior to enduring the rigors of the Combat Control School, Jefferson served as a Force Recon Marine.
Both men distinguished themselves apart from the typical service member by volunteering for special assignments and special duties.
"Instead of simply clamoring for peace where no peace can be had or turning a blind eye to the violence in the world. They made peace in the world on the only terms the enemy has offered us; by running and bravely patrolling the most dangerous places in the world," said one team mate though stifled tears.
While Neil was a permanent member of the Special Forces team Jefferson was an attached combat controller. He easily integrated himself into the team through exceptional duty performance on a daily basis; performing air traffic control functions, communicating with aircraft, and directing them to drop ordnance on enemy positions.
"From the first day that Will (Jefferson) walked into our camp to our last ride together Will was and forever will be part of our team," said the team engineer.
In addition to remembering the fallen for the lives they lived they tried to answer questions and bring comfort to each other.
"Will (Jefferson) believed in trying to teach us his job, just in case the worst should happen, he wanted his team to be prepared for anything and he made sure we were," the engineer said. "But some things you can never prepare for. Like hearing that you have just lost a good friend who you were joking with just 30 minutes before is impossible to prepare for."
"His life was not a loss but a fulfillment. A fulfillment of God's work," said one team member, about Neil.
"To their families those actions are merely the latest in a lifetime of devotion to others," said Ashley.