KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - While Americans around the world observed Memorial Day by placing flowers at gravesites, having cookouts, or simply reflecting on the sacrifices of those who died in service to the nation, many deployed service members did not take a day off.
The members of TAAC-South, composed of Soldiers from the 40th Infantry Division, California National Guard and the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, took a few moments to pay tribute to America's fallen warriors in a ceremony, May 28, at the headquarters here.
During the ceremony, TAAC-S Deputy Commander Col. Dave Zinn delivered a reading on the meaning of Memorial Day followed by a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace." The ceremony ended with a moment of silence followed by the playing of taps.
"This is a day where we recognize the sacrifices of those that helped us get where we are as a nation now," said Maj. Patrick Devine, chaplain for TAAC-South. "Memorial Day is more than a weekend off, and it can be easy to be disconnected from the significance of it."
Devine said deployments in particular, bring the significance of Memorial Day to the forefront.
"Just a half mile away, we have American and coalition members being treated in harm's way (at the NATO hospital)," explained Devine. "It's a constant reminder of the sacrifices people have given to live the way that we do."
Because of the continuous mission requirements throughout TAAC-South, Devine and the rest of the unit ministry team gave Soldiers alternate options for honoring the fallen.
"Names tapes that (included) details of fallen warriors were placed in different areas throughout Kandahar Airfield to allow service members and contractors to pick up and get a personal connection with the warrior," said Devine. "A scroll of remembrance was also created and placed in the chapel to allow service members to write down the name of someone they may have known that lost their life in theater."
Soldiers were invited to visit the fallen warrior display at the airfield chapel to reflect and pay tribute.
Master Sgt. Lou Spinazze, senior enlisted leader for the Police Advisory Team for TAAC-South and a member of the 40th Inf. Div., was not able to attend the ceremony but said he was thankful for the other options that afforded him the opportunity to set aside time to remember Capt. Raymond Hill.
"Captain Hill was killed by an (improvised explosive device) in Iraq in October of 2005," said Spinazze. "I wasn't in Iraq when it happened, but we were from the same hometown, and he was my platoon leader at one point, so it was rough to hear about his passing."
Spinazze, who has 27 years of service in the Army National Guard, said part of his motivation to continue serving is to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
"(Knowing) they gave everything motivates me to do more, to do better, and to work harder," said Spinazze. "Especially in a leadership position, because you don't want to lose or let anything bad happen to one of your Soldiers."
Memorial Day is also a small reminder to the service members of TAAC-South to continue to stay alert when conducting missions throughout Kandahar, said Spinazze.
"We hear about Soldiers (passing), for example the Soldier from 82nd Airborne Division and the Romanian army that we recently lost, and it's a reminder that it can happen here at any time and to anyone," Spinazze said. "It sinks in a little more when you think about it like that, so it's important to take some time to remember all our brothers and sisters in arms including our coalition partners."