FORT HOOD, TX - In a small but emotional ceremony on Cooper Field, here Feb 9, two Goldstar Mothers and veterans of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division gathered to remember four Soldiers who lost their lives ten years ago.
Lt. Col. Gary Derby, Sgt. Joshua Ward, Pvt. 1st Class Albert Jex and Pvt. 1st Class Jonathan Roberge and interpreter Jevan Ali Othman were killed in Iraq when their vehicle was hit by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. Derby was the commander of the Warhorse Battalion and the three Soldiers were members of his security detachment.
Goldstar family members Patti Ward, mother of Sgt. Ward and Cathy Mcfarlane, mother of Pvt. Jex were present for the ceremony.
"It's kind of unexplainable, because I remember it like yesterday," Ward said. "Always to have them and their brothers remember my son, it means so much to me."
The loss of the four Soldiers rocked the entire Warhorse Battalion to its core. For many, remembering that day means remembering not just the incident but the Soldiers themselves and the joy they brought to their families, both blood and military.
"Memories are good and bad in some ways." Mcfarlane said. "They can bring back a lot. But a lot of these guys, I call them my military sons, they are so dear in my heart and it warms my heart to have them here."
Friends, and leaders of Derby, Ward, Jex and Roberge stood up and talked about what they remembered the most.
"I think every day we stay in the shadow of what they gave and who they protected," said former Soldier, Jason Bates. "I will be always grateful for their sacrifice and always regretful that I couldn't have been where they were."
Bates, who was the platoon leader for the personal security detachment at the time of the attack, organized the memorial wanting to ensure that the Soldiers who died that day would never be forgotten.
"It really stays with me and it was 10 years and I wanted to do something to make sure that they know that we remember," said Bates "It's great because Warhorse doesn't forget. It's really special for everyone involved.
It is a pretty powerful experience to be back with the Goldstar Mothers and it's an indelible connection that I will have forever" Bates continued. "I want to remember these guys. I don't want to forget. I think everyone that they sacrificed for has an obligation to live up to what they mean and what they did"
Following the ceremony the friends and family received a tour of the 1st Cavalry Division Museum and the Horse Detachment. Later in the evening they gathered for a private dinner.