By Sgt. Breanne Pye (Fort Carson)September 8, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducted a ceremony at the Fort Carson Memorial Grove Sept. 1 to commemorate 14 fallen comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the brigade's deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The names of the "Raider" Brigade Soldiers killed in action while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan during the 12-month deployment were etched into the memorial, signifying the Soldiers' permanent place in the pages of the Mountain Post's history.
The ceremony began with Soldiers from Raider Brigade rendering honors to the nation's flag, after which Col. Jeffrey R. Martindale, commander, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div., along with brigade Command Sgt. Maj., Gerald L. Kinloch, laid a ceremonial wreath.
"In honoring our fallen, we celebrate their lives, cherish their memories and remember their sacrifices in helping the brigade accomplish its mission. Today, the brigade comes together as a reunited family to remember our amazing accomplishments and the heroic sacrifices over the past year," said Martindale, who relinquished command in a ceremony later that day.
"Every commander deploys his formation with the desire to bring every man and woman home alive and in good physical and mental condition," he said. "I, too, had this dream when over 4,000 Raiders deployed to Afghanistan. It saddens me deeply that I stand before you this morning to honor 14 brave men who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their nation."
The Soldiers memorialized during the ceremony played a significant role in helping turn the tide of the campaign in Afghanistan by ejecting the Taliban from their historical heartland, building the capacity of the Afghan Security Forces and improving the quality of life for the average Afghan citizen, Martindale said.
As each fallen Soldier's name was read, a Soldier from the honor guard approached the memorial to render a final, solitary salute.
Raider Brigade Chap. (Maj.) Charlie Lee then offered words of comfort as he addressed Families, friends and colleagues.
"Our fallen Soldiers are not with us this morning, but I know they are still alive in the hearts of those they left behind," said Lee. "They were all friends, fathers, husbands, sons and comrades. Each of them is an American hero."
As the ceremony concluded, everyone in attendance was drawn to the Fort Carson Memorial cornerstone, which bears a quote from President George W. Bush's Sept. 20, 2001, address to Congress: "We rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail."
Though their sacrifices were heavy, Martindale said, Raider Brigade's fallen epitomized that powerful quote.
"As we close the chapter on Raider Brigade's first deployment to Afghanistan, we must remember two aspects," said Martindale. "First, our deeds left lasting impacts on Afghanistan and will be immortalized in the history of their nation and our own. Second, and more importantly, the sacrifices of the wounded and fallen warriors of Raider Brigade are emblazoned in our hearts, and are forever etched here, in stone."