FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Kirkuk, Iraq - Soldiers and leaders from across Multi-National Division-North and the 10th Mountain Division gathered together Jan. 30 to say goodbye to four fallen comrades with a memorial ceremony here.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Philip Windorski, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Kelley, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Tillery and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin Todd, from Bravo Troop, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, were killed January 25 when the two OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters they were piloting went down near Kirkuk in Northern Iraq.
"It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell and come together to pay tribute and remembrance to the lives of four outstanding aviators, officers, husbands, fathers, friends and Cavalrymen," said Lt. Col. Brian Serota, 6-6 Cav. commander.
During the ceremony, friends spoke about each man, recalling lives dedicated to their families, faith and military service.
Capt. Matthew McGraw, Bravo Troop commander, shared the lessons he hoped his comrades would learn from the fallen pilots' sacrifice.
"We may never know the full extent or details of what happened the night of 25 January, 2009," McGraw said. "But what we do know, and can never forget, is the character of each of these men, and what they taught us."
"And so today we mourn; but tomorrow we get back in the fight with the full confidence that he had in us - and that is how we are going to honor Phil Windorski.
"And we will take this event, and we will do everything that we can to learn from it, and ensure to the best of our abilities that it never happens again. And that is how we will honor Josh Tillery.
"And we will take this opportunity to honor our families, to make sure that we give our all for their happiness, fulfillment and protection - that is how we will honor Matt Kelley.
"And we will take our time to pause, and give thanks to our Heavenly Father for giving us the strength to persevere and move forward in the face of adversity, knowing that our brothers are in His care. And that is how we're going to honor Benjamin Todd."
Serota urged his Troopers to carry the memories of Windorski, Kelley, Tillery and Todd with them as they continue the fight.
"Honoring our fallen also means we are driven to continue the mission at hand," he said. "We recognize this, and we relentlessly prosecute the fight to a victorious outcome, so that their - and their families' - sacrifices are not in vain."
Windorski is survived by his wife Karen and their children Emmalyn, Austin and Miranda.
Kelley is survived by his wife DaLana and their children Megan and Tyler.
Tillery is survived by his wife Stephanie and their sons Alec, Collin and Hayden.
Todd is survived by his wife Shelly and their daughter Ashlyn.