By Sgt. Steven LewisJuly 16, 2019
Families, teammates and friends of the recently deceased Soldiers slowly take their seats or find a place to stand on May 22, 2018 alongside the 3rd SFG (A) memorial walk.
The seven fallen Soldiers who were honored were Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Bannister, Warrant Officer Shawn Thomas, Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Sgt. LaDavid Johnson and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Thomas.
Col. Bradley D. Moses, Commander of 3rd SFG (A), spoke affectionate words about each of the fallen Soldiers during his remarks at the stone laying ceremony. He went over a brief history of Memorial Day and why, as Americans, we commemorate it while reflecting on the importance of honoring those who have given their lives while serving this country.
The memorial stones are a unique way of honoring the fallen Soldiers of 3rd SFG (A) and they remind Soldiers of the sacrifices that have been made for this country.
Maj. Emmitt Furner, Chaplain of 3rd SFG (A), gave the invocation during the ceremony. "The stones were beautiful and well done," Furner said.
"The purpose of the memorial stones are to remember," he said. "They're stones that have their names and their death dates in a place where we frequent."
The seven new stones were added to the 3rd SFG (A) memorial walk to honor the recently fallen Soldiers.
"It's a memorial walk in our area of operation, the group footprint," Furner said. "They're a constant reminder to us the sacrifices that were made for our country, for our freedom and our way of life."
The reminder of sacrifice the memorial walk provides to the Soldiers and families of 3rd SFG (A) is very important.
"If we weren't reminded of the cost of our freedom, that would be a tragedy," Furner said. "We must remember, it's important that we remember, what has been done. It allows us to reflect on what has been done and to think about those who have sacrificed, the families particularly."
Throughout his time as the 3rd SFG (A) Commander, Col. Moses has made the families of the fallen a top priority.
"Col. Moses, when he took command, really put a lot of emphasis on the gold star families and our fallen," Furner said. "I could just see a particular interest of priority as a commander to do this well."
Efforts made to make this a day to remember for the families and Soldiers who attended the ceremony were made because 3rd SFG (A) cares deeply about the fallen Soldiers, their families and the Soldiers within the organization.
"I hope the families take away that this is an organization that loves them, cares about them, that is here for them and will never forget them," Furner said.
The families of the fallen Soldiers mourn with a heavy heart and are fully supported by 3rd SFG (A) but not only do the families mourn their loss, so do the teammates.
During the ceremony one could find the teammates and friends of the fallen Soldiers not seated but standing off to the side or in the back. Each one mourning their loss in their own way and honoring the friend they once had.
"I think that's an illustration of what type of organization this is and the type of people that are members of this organization," Furner said. "That they're there to honor their fallen brothers. This event is also very important for them too. We must remember that those are their teammates that they loved very much and are also morning their loss."
There is a phrase in 3rd SFG (A) that everybody knows. "Care for the wounded, honor the fallen, continue the mission." Col. Moses lives by this phrase as do the Soldiers within 3rd SFG (A).
"His emphasis on caring for the wounded and honoring the fallen is enormous and that's what made today such a priority," Furner said.
It is important that 3rd SFG (A) honors their fallen in its unique way. Not only is it a special tribute to the fallen Soldiers but it also provides family and team members a chance for healing in their mourning process.
"Many gold star family members expressed gratitude for the time and effort that was put into today's event," Furner said. "Some communicated that this was important for their healing."
The memorial stone laying ceremony helped people with their healing, paid respects to the seven fallen Soldiers and was a beautiful display of appreciation for them. During the ceremony it was made clear that these Soldiers are gone, but will never be forgotten.
"It is abundantly clear that honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice is sacred, regardless of race, culture, creed, religion or time," Moses said in his remarks during the stone laying ceremony. "I will always remember these Soldiers. I will continue to fight for them, this country and the liberties we hold dear."