Paratroopers filed into Camp Ramadi Memorial Chapel and found their seats on hand made pews. It was in September of 2003 that this building was established as a place of worship when the 142nd Engineer Battalion from South Carolina had a team of master carpenters transform a maintenance bay into a Chapel using hand tools, hard work, and patience.
On Oct. 9, eight years later, Chaplain (Maj.) Jeff Spangler of the 2nd Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, welcomed fellow Paratroopers to the Falcon Honor Service to "honor the past, and celebrate the future."
The service started with an energetic prelude from Cpt. Price Smith, commander of headquarters Co., 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, performing a medley of hymns and patriotic standards with a robust jazz overtone, which eventually gave way to a somber rendition of "Requiem For A Soldier."
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Scott Hammond, of the 25th Infantry Division, and Lt. Col. Steven Hart, 2/82 base closure officer, spoke briefly about the importance of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines worshipping, grieving, and memorializing their fallen brothers and sisters in the Ramadi Memorial Chapel for the past eight years.
A song entitled "Finally Home" was performed by Cpt. Todd Donaldson, executive officer with headquarters Co., 2nd BSTB, while pictures of servicemen and women who died in Ramadi were projected on the wall above him. "Each picture does not just represent one person's sacrifice. Each face in that picture is attached to a family, a unit, and a circle of friends that sacrificed as well," said Donaldson.
Pictures of these service members were displayed on the walls of the chapel for years in honor of their sacrifice. Chaplain Spangler spoke about living a life worthy of the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf, and the Ramadi Gospel Choir ended the service with a powerful performance of "He Is The Light."
Spangler summarized his message saying, "It is impossible to earn their sacrifices. They can never be earned. What we can do is live a life worthy of such sacrifices. We live a life worthy by allowing those sacrifices to inform every decision we make. Here at Ramadi, that means finishing strong, finishing well, and finishing with honor."
He went on to say, "If the walls of this chapel could talk, the stories that could be told would be stories of pain, struggle, and sorrow, as well as stories of supernatural peace, comfort, and salvation. As we prepare to close this Chapel, we carry a chapter of this story with us."
Worship services will continue here until the last U. S. Forces leave. The Falcon Honor Service marks the beginning of the end of a legacy of comprehensive soldier ministry on Camp Ramadi performed by dozens of military chaplains, steadfast in their commitment to nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the dead.