BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 10, 2015--The 4th Czech Force Protection Company (4th CZE FP COY) held a Czech Fallen Heroes' Day at Bagram Airfield on July 8 to honor the memory of five Czech soldiers that died in a suicide bomber attack in the Qalandar Khel village on July 8, 2014. The four soldiers, of the 2nd Czech Force Protection Company, were Chief Master Sgts. David Benes, Ivo Klusak, Libor Ligac, Jan Senkyr, and Jaroslav Lieskovan.
A tradition in every Czech unit to devote a full day to sports once a year, activities began at 2 a.m. with a 42k marathon run and continued with a 5k run, shooting competition, power triathlon, and soccer tournament. The best sportsmen or sportswomen in each competition were awarded diplomas and prizes at an after-party and awards ceremony later that evening.
"Today we're gathered to remember the first anniversary of a tragic event," Capt. Marek Jerabek, 4th CZE FP COY commander, said. "On July 8, 2014, Czech patrol and a group of Afghan locals were attacked by a suicide attacker in the vicinity of Qalandar Khel Village in front of the Korean Clinic. Four soldiers were killed by a blast on site, and the fifth died of wounds six days later. The Czech Army has lost five of its men -- respected professionals and colleagues, dedicated soldiers. In the minds of all soldiers and friends, they will live forever."
Lt. Col. Zachary Miller, TF Solid commander, winning 3rd place in the 5K run, also spoke at the awards ceremony.
"First let me say how proud I am to have the Czech Lion Company as part of Task Force Solid," he said. "Day in and day out you do incredible work. We have a tough mission because we take on risk and face physical danger so that the other 18,000 people living here do not have to. Most people on Bagram go about their daily work without ever thinking about the security they enjoy and the security that you provide. But we do not do our job to gain recognition or accolades. We do it because it is our duty. And nobody in all of Afghanistan does it any better than you."
"This day was presented to the memory of the most tragic day in modern history of the Czech army," Col. David Schnabel, Czech Task Force Resolute Support Mission commander, said. "Today we pay tribute to our fallen colleagues and friends. We all think back with respect and also with sadness. Many of us will likely not resist emotions. But I prefer to see this day also as a celebration and remembrance of values that we think of when we are speaking about fallen soldiers."
"Today is the kind of day that makes me proud to be a Soldier," Miller added. "A day where we all enjoyed friendly competition and recognize the best among us, and a day were we can reflect on those that gave the last full measure of devotion. So thank you for your hard work, and thank you for the great credit you bring to the task force, the Resolute Support coalition, and the Czech Republic."