Remembering September 11 3rd BCT fallen heroes
September 11, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- On the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans everywhere are attending ceremonies or tuning in to watch them on television. They are reflecting on where they were the moment they learned of the history-changing events. Many can recall being in school or at work with the same clarity of the death of a loved one or the birth of a child.
There is no question that the life of nearly every American has been affected or changed. Many of them decided to join the Army, Marines Corps, Air Force, or Navy, despite the lack of an open call to arms or conscription remembered by veterans of America's past wars.
These individuals came to the military service knowing that their country was in an uncertain war, with an enemy that blended in with average citizens.
They came to the military knowing, not only would they have to deploy into harm's way, they would have to keep doing it again and again as the conflict progressed.
Those who stayed rose through the ranks over the years, becoming the first combat veterans of a prolonged war after decades of relative peace. Others left the military service, bringing their experiences with them into the civilian world.
Those who moved on to civilian life brought with them discipline, attention to detail, memories and camaraderie they may have never found in a typical college or "nine to five".
Still, brave men and women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts throughout the world to combat terrorism, and never came home.
Military service is often a thankless profession, rife with long hours of duty filled with a variety of mental and physical challenges. There is often little reward for a job well done, as it is expected of Soldiers, especially those in leadership positions.
The Paratroopers listed below who have served in the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division are among the most deserving of thanks from the American people.
They have given the ultimate sacrifice to their country and fellow Paratroopers. They have proven their bravery, and earned their awards.
Always remember Staff Sgt. Justin M. Estes from Sims, Arkansas, an infantry squad leader in Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Iraq on March 5, 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Estes was on a mounted patrol in Iraq when a series of roadside bombs struck vehicles in his convoy. Despite the danger of more explosives in the area, or a complex ambush, he rushed to his fellow Paratroopers' sides to help carry them to safety. His courageous actions ultimately cost him his life. According to the narrative accompanying his Silver Star, "the imminent danger at which Staff Sgt. Estes had placed himself in order to save the lives of his comrades was realized, as he was engulfed in a cloud of smoke and debris as a secondary IED detonated directly underneath his feet, killing him instantly."
Always remember Staff Sgt. William C. Moore, from Benson, North Carolina, a troop section leader with Troop B, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Iraq on April 23, 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Moore and his platoon had been engaged during several days of combat operations when his patrol base was attacked from multiple locations and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), ejecting him from the building he occupied. Ignoring his injuries, he led his fellow Paratroopers to establish defensive measures.
Realizing more Paratroopers remained trapped in the damaged building from which he was ejected, he ran to the building under heavy enemy fire to attempt to save their lives, where was mortally wounded after the building was struck by a second VBIED. He ignored his injuries still, and helped direct rescue personnel to the injured Paratroopers' location while helping dig himself and others out of the destroyed building's rubble.
Always remember Sgt. Andrew Perkins from Lubbock, Texas, a team leader with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Iraq on March 5, 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Perkins was part of a reconnaissance patrol near Samarra, Iraq when a vehicle in his convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device. His comrades in the vehicle were alive but engulfed in flames. Perkins retrieved fire blankets and a fire extinguisher and, without regard for his own safety, ran through the flames and exploding ammunition to attempt to save the lives of his comrades. After the fire extinguisher was expended, he ran to another vehicle to retrieve more blankets and returned to the intense heat. Perkins was killed trying to save the lives of his comrades by a secondary explosion.
Always remember Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin L. Sebban, from South Amboy, New Jersey, a senior medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions on March 17, 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sebban safeguarded the lives of 86 Paratroopers when he noticed a vehicle laden with explosives speeding toward their location. He yelled out to warn them but was stricken down when the vehicle exploded. Despite being mortally wounded, Sebban rushed to the aid station to help treat other injured Paratroopers. He ultimately succumbed to his injuries and collapsed while helping save the lives of others.
There are many other heroic Paratroopers across the 82nd Airborne Division, past and present. They carry on as living legends and continue to serve their country from inside and outside the military service.
Those who have chosen to move on as civilians not only carry with them the memories of September 11, 2001, but the memories of their military service affected by the War of Terrorism. They operate our banks and other local services. They teach in our schools and provide us with the goods and services that we require to function as a society. But they do it with a discipline, resiliency, and attention-to-detail that isn't often found in an average citizen. Paratroopers, past and present, are a special breed of American citizen.
The airborne Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division were never forced to join the military, or to become Paratroopers, or to leave their families to engage the enemy in some of the most hostile places in the world. They chose to serve because they knew their country needed them.
To all service members across every branch who have lost their lives, or saved the lives of others, America will forever be in your debt. You are most appreciated and missed. The people of America must always be grateful for your service, bravery, and sacrifice.