FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Etched on the Memorial Wall at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Headquarters are the names of 1,242 fallen Army Special Operations warriors who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
USASOC honored their legacy during a Gold Star Memorial Ceremony held on the Memorial Plaza surrounded by Gold Star families, friends, and guests who traveled from across the Nation to attend the ceremony on Fort Bragg, N.C., May 25.
“Thanks for being here on this solemn but important day,” said Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, USASOC commanding general. “We remember the 1,242 names on this wall, heroes who have fallen in support of this great nation. I’m especially pleased to welcome our most honored guests – our Special Operations Gold Star family members.”
Braga added he is “extremely thankful that we do not have to add a name to the Memorial Wall this year.”
U.S. Army Special Operations forces have been involved in virtually all U.S. conflicts since World War II, performing direct action and unconventional warfare missions. They have repeatedly performed some of the most dangerous and important missions to ensure our victories.
“This is the longest period of time we have experienced without losing an ARSOF soldier in combat since Sept. 11, 2001,” Braga said. “Since that foreboding day, we face the death of 377 men and women of Army Special Operations whose names are on this wall. Many of the family members are here today, and they’re interwoven in that history.”
For Gold Star father Wendall Pelham, memorial ceremonies are reminders to reflect daily on the legacy of our fallen heroes.
“I’m beyond honored, as we have these conversations, the message that we’re sending is that America is the greatest country on the planet period,” Pelham said. “That our history is our history, those who have fought and died for our country need to be honored and need to be recognized and their legacies never, ever, ever should be forgotten.”
Pelham’s son, Spc. John Pelham, was killed in action on Feb. 12, 2014, in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The reason we come back year after year is to share with folks like yourselves and your viewers at home that freedom is not free and the cost is exorbitant, and it's massive and it's not financial but it's human,” he said. “Every day, I wake up with the intention to make my son proud of his father.”
The ceremony concluded with each ARSOF unit laying a wreath in front of the Memorial Wall, Taps, and a moment of silence to reflect on those who paid the ultimate price.