By Michael StrasserJune 20, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (June 20, 2018) -- Fort Drum community members, Gold Star Families and guests gathered in Memorial Park on post June 19 to attend the annual Mountain Remembrance Ceremony and honor 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers who died in service around the world.
This year, two Soldiers in particular were recognized: Spc. Alexander W. Missildine, assigned to 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Polk, Louisiana; and Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Bannister, former commander of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum.
"It is right and it is fitting that we remember these two American Soldiers and pay tribute to their lives and to their sacrifices," said Brig. Gen. Patrick J. Donahoe, 10th Mountain Division (LI) deputy commanding general.
Missildine died on Oct. 1, 2017, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy in Salah ad-Din Province, Iraq. Bannister died on May 27, 2018, of natural causes while on transition leave.
Donahoe officiated the ceremony, and he joined retired Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher K. Greca, former U.S. Central Command senior enlisted adviser and 10th Mountain Division command sergeant major; retired Col. Michael T. Plummer, former 10th Mountain Division (LI) chief of staff; and Command Sgt. Maj. Jason O. Johnson, Task Force Pando command sergeant major, to unveil the newly-inscribed memorial plaque.
Greca acknowledged the 39 Gold Star Families in attendance, and thanked them for their own sacrifices. He said that when their Soldiers chose to serve and defend the nation in a time of war, it was because they were raised with all the values that would make them American heroes.
Greca pointed to the Mountaineer statue behind him, and said that the Soldiers depicted helping one another up the mountain represents all Mountain Soldiers and their climb to glory.
"Ladies and gentlemen, that's Maj. Gen. Jeff Bannister and that's Alex Missildine and his teammates - his brothers and sisters - your sons and daughters sitting up there," Greca said. "And every day, they're pulling us high."
Plummer, Fort Drum Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army president, said that no event means as much to him as honoring Soldiers at memorial services like this.
"On Memorial Day, we honor all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the nation. Today, we honor all of those who wore the red, white and blue patch of the 10th Mountain Division, and their gold Star Family Members," Plummer said.
He gestured to the plaques surrounding the statue at Memorial Park with the names of more than 300 Soldiers who died while fighting in contingency operations since 1992.
"I believe, as do most warriors, that they are seated around the great campfire in the sky at the final bivouac, watching what we're doing with the gift they have given us," Plummer said.