SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - With the difficult task of trying to provide lasting comfort for friends and families of Soldiers who have lost their lives in combat, who better to lead the way than a person who has experienced loss of his own'
Cpl. Donald Schrader, a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Broncos), 25th Infantry Division, who has lost family and friends through multiple U.S. wars, led the construction of a memorial room to honor other Soldiers who lost their lives during the brigade's service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For Schrader, a five-year combat engineer veteran, the opportunity to give back to his fellow comrades-in-arms by constructing the room has served as one of the highlights of his career.
"I lost a lot of friends on the last deployment that I went on, and I lost a few during this recent deployment...some were killed downrange and some when they came back. For me, being able to make sure that these Soldiers are immortalized for what they sacrificed is important to me," said Schrader.
What used to be a regular office room in the brigade has now become the site for honoring the fallen Bronco heroes, explained Schrader.
The idea for the room found its start with brigade commander Col. Walt Piatt expressing his desire to memorialize the brigade's fallen Soldiers by creating a display that could be moved if the brigade headquarters moved in the future. To make this happen, Sgt. 1st Class Jimmie Jackson, the brigade's rear detachment operations non commissioned officer, and Sgt. Patsy Morrisutu, a communication NCO, were the main contributors to the room's conceptual interior design, with Schrader and Spc. Herbert Agal III being the hands that put everything together.
"It's a lot easier for someone to give back when they themselves have lost so much," said Schrader somberly describing his passion behind his work in the room.
The Soldiers honored in the memorial room served during the brigade's deployments to Afghanistan in 2004-2005, and to Iraq in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009. When the room is complete, Soldiers who lost their lives in the Korean and Vietnam Wars will also be featured in the memorial room.
Inside the room a computer kiosk, designed by Morrisutu, continuously displays a photo presentation and brief bio of each fallen Soldier. The kiosk is flanked by fallen Soldier tribute stands with Army Combat Helmets atop of M4 rifles embedded into the base of the stands. The memorials include the fallen Soldiers' dog tags motionlessly hanging from the rifles.
According to Jackson, the four walls of the room are painted in a deep red to commemorate the sacrifices of the brigade's Soldiers.
"We wanted to create a room that would have a somber atmosphere where family, friends and Soldiers could go in and reflect on the sacrifices their battle buddies or family members made during the Global War on Terrorism," said Jackson.
"I see this room will exceed our expectations in providing comfort to those who enter [it]. When they see all of the time and dedication that was put into this room, it will really pull at the heartstrings of the viewers," Schrader said.
"These Soldiers are not going to be just names on a wall...we are making sure [with this memorial room] that our Soldiers are never forgotten, and what they did wasn't for nothing," he stated.
The memorial room will be dedicated and open for public viewing May 20 in F quad.