By Staff Sgt. Kissta DiGregorioFebruary 23, 2017
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Paratroopers and leaders assigned to 4th Military Information Support Group gathered together recently to memorialize Spc. Marc Decoteau and Staff Sgt. Mark Stets, Jr., both of whom were killed in action Jan. 29 and Feb. 3, 2010, respectively. Instead of hosting traditional memorial ceremonies, the units conducted physical training sessions to honor the memory of the fallen.
Spc. Marc Decoteau was deployed to Afghanistan with 6th Military Information Support Battalion, 4th MISG, when he was killed. Leaders from 6th MISB, as well as his brother, Lt. Andrew Decoteau, took a moment to speak of his life and service prior to the physical training, also known as the Hero Workout, Jan. 30, 2017.
Command Sgt. Major Wojciech Labuz, the senior enlisted leader of 6th MISB, addressed the somber formation at the start of the workout.
"You have to do things that our heroes can't do today," Labuz said. "They paid the ultimate sacrifice and you have to honor that by doing the best you can every day."
Following one minute of silence to represent the month Decoteau was killed; the formation conducted 29 repetitions -- to represent the day -- of four different exercises -- to represent Decoteau's initial service commitment of four years -- incorporating 2010 meters of sprints to represent the year, and finally, 19 burpees to represent his age.
Throughout the event, Lt. Decoteau caught up with Soldiers who served with his older brother. Lt. Decoteau said his brother's service was a motivator for him to join, and he's glad to have the opportunity to be stationed on the same installation his brother was.
"It definitely solidified wanting to get to the [U.S. Military] Academy," Lt. Decoteau said. "It was difficult, but I'm here now. I got lucky enough to be stationed at Fort Bragg. It's really cool to be a part of it all."
Less than a week later, 8th Military Information Support Battalion, 4th MISG, gathered for a Hero Workout, Feb. 3, 2017, this time a battalion run to honor the memory of Stets, who was killed in action seven years prior in Pakistan. Before stepping off for the four-mile run, a young Soldier moved to the front carrying a flag emblazoned with "Honor and Remember" along with Stets' name and the date he was killed. A symbol to recognize Stets' sacrifice and service, the flag was carried throughout the run in front of the battalion colors.
Following the run, Stets' parents, Mark and Nancy, spoke of their son and their gratitude to 8th MISB for honoring his memory.
"He was a good kid and a good Soldier," Mark said to the formation. "I'm very proud of him and always will be. Because of what you guys are doing, you'll never forget him. Thank you for what you've done."
One Soldier who participated in Stets' run had also participated in the event honoring Decoteau. He had served as Spc. Decoteau's detachment sergeant in Afghanistan. By sheer happenstance he was one of the Soldiers in charge of placing Stets on his hero flight home.
When asked to explain the significance of memorial events such as these, the Soldier said, "It keeps us sharp. It keeps the team tight. In your day-to-day life you can get busy coming to work, doing all your daily duties and then going home and you forget there are people sacrificing daily. It's good to always remember and keep the honor and heritage going."