FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The lives of three fallen 3rd Special Forces Group Soldiers were honored in a ceremony outside of the group's 1st Battalion headquarters, Dec. 4.

Master Sgt. David L. Hurt, Staff Sgt. Jeremy E. Bessa and Staff Sgt. Marc J. Small, with Operation Detachment Alpha 3123, 1st Bn., died in combat in Afghanistan in February. During the ceremony, stones inscribed with their names were placed along the walkway leading to the battalion headquarters.

"These stones serve as a celebration of Marc, Jeremy and David's heroic contributions," said Lt. Col. Christopher Riga, commander, 1st Bn. "These brave men's character along with the joy, pride and love they brought their Families and friends will never be forgotten. They lived their lives to the fullest."

Former team members eulogized each Soldier and told stories about each man, leaving few with a dry eye.

"Dave (Hurt) was one of those rare individuals that left an impression on everyone he touched," said Capt. Blayne P. Smith, Company B, 1st Bn. "The guy that we all call the 'Big Hurt' was passionate about everything in his life and made no apologies for that."

Smith said he tells his children stories about the man he called the "finest Soldier and leader" he's ever known.

Sgt. 1st Class David T. Weigel helped keep spirits up during the ceremony as he spoke of Small and an incident during their last deployment.

"It was late at night, and I recognized this awkward, strange, repetitive noise during a clear night in Afghanistan," said Weigel, of Co. B, 1st Bn. "I recognized the noise as I got closer to the medical facility. As I entered, I found the source of the noise - it was Mark, with his full-belly Santa laugh, almost on the ground with tears in his eyes ... he was laughing so hard."

Someone accidently took a drink of diesel fuel from a cup in Small's presence. He couldn't stop laughing about it, Weigel said.

Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Stephen honored Bessa.Aca,!A..The two worked together closely on their last deployment fixing a radio tower at their fire base.

"The radio tower hadn't been used in some time, so Jeremy and I thought it would be a great idea to get up there and get it working," said Stephen, with Co. B, 1st Bn. "I didn't realize it, but the whole time we were up there working and talking we were broadcasting the whole time."Aca,!A..
The ceremony concluded with final thoughts from Riga.

"Today these stones remind us of our tremendous loss," Riga said. "However, in the future they will serve this unit, the regiment and all those that see them as a lasting reminder. A reminder of Dave, Mark and Jeremy's bravery, their willingness to sacrifice for our freedom, the freedom of the oppressed and their dedication to the men they called friends."