By Sgt. Blair NeelandsDecember 21, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Pfc. Eric Clark, Pfc. Stephen Snowberger, Spc. Arturo Huerta-Cruz, Spc. Joshua Harton, Sgt. Michael Kirspel and Sgt. 1st Class Todd Harris. To some, these may just be names, but to the Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, these are more than just names; they are comrades, brothers and friends who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Staff Sgt. Carl Chandler, Spc. Matthew Hagler, Spc. Steven Burtis and Pfc. Marc Gallant recently created a Wall of Heroes to honor the six men the Centaur Battalion lost in the previous three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2005.
"This is a memorial for all the fallen Soldiers of 3-6 (FA)," Hagler said. "These are all good men that we lost, and we did what anybody else would do to remember these great men."
After the arrival of Sgt. Maj. Mario Terenas, 3-6 FA senior enlisted adviser, the battalion headquarters building was refurbished with unit historical artifacts. Still, more was needed -- for the fallen, their Families and the Centaurs.
"We did this because we knew these guys and served with them," Chandler said. "Before, we just had three small photos on a table, but now we have a true dedication so their Families can come here 15 years down the road and see their son still on our wall."
The once seemingly unnoticed location of soda and snack machines was renovated into a sanctuary where the photos of the six fallen Centaurs line the wall.
Centered along the wall sits one downward pointing rifle, representing the memorial of Soldiers killed in action, topped by a helmet symbolizing this ultimate sacrifice; six dog tags dangle from the pistol grip, identifying the Soldiers so they will never be forgotten, and at the base sits a pair of combat boots signifying the final march of the last battle.
A single chair faces inward at the six photographs, providing a place of reflection.
"A Soldier can come here on his own and sit down to reflect and do whatever he feels he needs to do in his heart," Chandler said. "They can always come by to remember."
"It gives them a place to say any last words they may not have been able to say at the time," Hagler said.
The creation of this special place came at little cost to the battalion, thanks to the generosity of the Fort Drum community.
"Everything was donated," Chandler said. "The boots, the flag, the rifle, everything was donated or recovered from around post. All the wood used for the frames, plaques, table and baseboards is made from recycled wood from various places around post, like the buildings being torn down on (South) Post."
Scraps of wood saved from the previous 3-6 FA headquarters building was salvaged and reused in the room.
For everyone involved, it was a pleasure to be able to create a lasting place where these Centaurs will be remembered forever.
"I served with everybody on this wall," Hagler said. "They all went above and beyond the call of duty. They all had great personalities and were great men to work alongside of. It was a privilege and honor to be a part of this. They will definitely be missed, but with this room they will always live on in 3-6."