By Nancy Gould, Hunter Army Airfield Public AffairsJanuary 21, 2010
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - The names of the three fallen heroes from the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment echoed clearly during roll call as the afternoon sun faded in the Rangers' memorial courtyard on Hunter Army Airfield, Jan. 14.
"He's not here," responded the commander of each Ranger killed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. "He is no longer with us."
Family, friends and comrades of Staff Sgt. Jason Dahlke, Sgt. Roberto Sanchez and Pfc. Eric Hario listened with tears in their eyes as the battle buddies of those killed took their turn at the chilly memorial podium to share warm memories in front of the large group who had gathered to mourn.
Sergeant Edward Ward, Company B, 1/75th Ranger Regiment, spoke emotionally about the 24-year-old Sgt. Roberto Sanchez when he stepped up. He said that Sgt. Sanchez wanted a career in the Army to serve our nation and make a difference.
"He believed if the right guys stayed in, they could prevent bad things from happening and that's what he did," Sgt. Ward said. "He'll live forever in our hearts."
Sergeant Sanchez was killed during a combat operation that took out nine enemy combatants and destroyed a large weapons cache.
Staff Sergeant Dahlke, another fallen Ranger, was called a mentor, a friend and a man who lived life to the fullest by Sgt. Sean Michael Cleary, Company A, 1/75th Ranger Regiment, a battle buddy who served with him in Afghanistan.
"He used to say, 'it's not the number of years in your life that counts, it's the life in your years,'" Sgt. Cleary said.
Twenty-nine-year-old Sgt. Dahlke was killed when a Ranger task force attacked an enemy position, Aug. 29.
Lastly, Pfc. William Hario, 19, was wounded by small arms fire but later died in a combat support hospital where he was evacuated.
"He knew the risk factor for this mission was high," said Spc. Donald Watson, A Co., 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, about Hario's first mission. "But he had confidence, and he learned quickly. When you think of Pfc. Hario, keep your head high."
"There is no greater honor than to be here to memorialize these three heroes," said Col. Brian Mennes, 1/75th Ranger Regiment commander, who began the solemn ceremony by welcoming the Gold Star Families of Rangers being honored, along with dignitaries and others who attended.
"They are true life heroes, modern day knights and American Treasures," said Col. Mennes. "They are part of a small minority who sacrificed on behalf of the Nation to secure our freedom. They died defending the Constitution of the United States and our collective values."
The deployment was the 1/75th Ranger Regiment's 13th since the Global War on Terror began in 2001.