By Scott Prater (Fort Carson)June 1, 2017
FORT CARSON, Colorado -- Soldiers, Families and friends gathered at the Mountain Post Warrior Memorial Ceremony May 25, 2017, to pay tribute to the 399 Fort Carson Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Four fallen Soldiers' names were added to the stone memorials this year, recognizing the four Soldiers who lost their lives in support of Army combat operations in the past year. Maj. Andrew D. Byers, Sgt. 1st Class Ryan A. Gloyer and Staff Sgt. Adams S. Thomas, all with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Wilbur, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, had their names engraved on the memorial, honoring their service, bravery and patriotism.
Maj. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, led the tribute while addressing the importance of Memorial Day and its significance to those who have lost loved ones.
"Memorial Day's precursor, known as Decoration Day, was estab?lished over 150 years ago as a time for Americans to decorate the graves of Civil War veterans with fresh flowers as a tribute to their service and the tremendous price paid to preserve the Union," said Gonsalves. "As we remember your sons, fathers, husbands and brothers, our hearts our filled with the deepest respect for their selflessness and their love of Family and comrades. They embody our finest values and are among the many heroes since 2001 who gave their lives for all that we cherish as Americans. We will never forget what they have done and will remember them always."
Following the ceremony, Soldiers, Family members and distinguished guests approached the memorial stones to pay their respects.
"Many will walk along this memorial and look at the names engraved upon it," Gonsalves said. "Many will wonder, Was he married? Did she have children? Where was he born? Was she the star athlete at some small high school? What aspirations did they have for the rest of their lives? We may never know all the answers, but the names engraved on these simple and humble stones hold the story of the life of American Soldiers for a noble cause and free people everywhere, who gravely faced down a dark shadow on the horizon and now takes his place on a scroll of a generation of heroes."
Like many of the guests who attended the ceremony, Nancy Hecker struggled through the emotional ceremony to honor her son and the Fort Carson Soldiers whose names rest on the memorial. Her son, Maj. William F. Hecker, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was killed Jan. 5, 2006, in Najaf, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee.
"He was born right here at the old Fort Carson hospital in 1968," she said. "We were a career military Family and he wanted to follow in the steps of his father since he was in first grade. He graduated from West Point in the class of 1991, and he was a career Soldier."
She said her son led a good life, that he was married and fathered four children.
"Yes, it's been 11 years since his passing, but the tears still come," she said. "We honor all of the Soldiers who've served. We feel for the Families who lost their loved ones this year, and we want them to know that we support them."