FORT STEWART, Ga. Gathered around a marble memorial, Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, came together, March 5 to honor their fallen Tusker comrades in a memorial dedication service at the Tusker Operation Iraq Freedom memorial here.

Family, friends and colleagues came out to pay respect to the eight warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their nation during the battalion's most recent deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The memorial, built in October 2006, was constructed with materials donated from the local community. The memorial also features an eastern redbud tree to symbolize a link with Warriors Walk.

"This monument recognizes the sacrifices of two distinguished units in the 64th Armor Regiment, 1st Battalion Desert Rouges and 4th Battalion Tuskers," said Lt. Col. Johnnie L. Johnson, Jr., commander of 4/64 Armor. "Both battalions recently conducted missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom."

Johnson spoke of the ceremony as a way to pay tribute to the lives of the Soldiers.
"We are indeed grateful for the opportunity to honor these eight dedicated Soldiers who are no longer with us," Johnson said. "We recognize and are humbled by their sacrifice and will continue to hold the warmest thoughts and memories of them in our hearts."

The eight Soldiers honored in the memorial service were Staff Sgt. Christopher Hake; Sgt. Steve McCoy; Cpl. James Gudridge; Cpl. William O'Brien; Spc. Jose Rubio-Hernandez; Pfc. Andrew Habsieger; Pvt. George Delgado and Pvt. Ronald Harrison.

"Among them are fathers, sons, brothers, husbands and comrades; they came from all walks of life and from across our great nation," Johnson said. "Each of them joined our ranks for various reasons but you undoubtedly find similarities in their stories and memories of them."

Family members from the McCoy and Habsieger families attended the ceremony to memorialize their Soldier and the other fallen Soldiers.

While in Iraq, the battalion accomplished many things to help the local population. Those accomplishments, Johnson said, were only possible due to the commitment of his Soldiers.

"We enjoyed many successes during our 14 months of combat in Iraq because our ranks are filled with men and women who exemplify courage, commitment, perseverance and sacrifice," Johnson said. "These qualities, among others, are what makes our Army the greatest in the history of the world."

The Tusker Battalion became the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment during a reflagging ceremony Monday as the brigade transitions from a Heavy Brigade Combat Team to a Light Infantry Brigade Combat Team.