"He was my roommate for almost a year here and one of my best friends in the platoon," said Sgt. Jason Caspers. "He not only taught me a lot about getting the job done, but also doing the job right. As a Soldier, he always pushed and strived to keep tradition and standards."
Caspers, infantryman, Continental Color Guard, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), distinctly remembers the last time he spoke to his best friend, Spc. Ronald Wildrick.
"I talked to him the Thursday before he was killed," said Caspers soberly. "I was here at work when I got a random phone number on my phone. It was Ron's voice on the other end. He was saying no matter how tough it was out there, he was getting the job done."
Wildrick, who served in CCG prior to being assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii late July 2011, was killed in action from wounds suffered when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, Dec, 11, 2011.
"He would have made a very good noncommissioned officer because he was a person who led by example. He would figure out the job, how to do it well and then added something to it," said Caspers. "He always wanted stuff done right. He was always willing to do the work."
Caspers laughed before saying if anyone was doing something wrong, he would be the first one to call it out in a heartbeat.
Accomplishing the mission was certainly important to Wildrick, but equally as important was living to the fullest.
"He had such a zest for life. Sometimes we called him Wildman Wildrick because of his personality. If he walked into a room full of people, by the end of the night everyone would know him," said Spc. Daniel Bono, infantryman, CCG. "Ron didn't sit still because he was always doing something and going somewhere."
Bono said Wildrick's enthusiasm for life stemmed from his strong belief in family.
"He would talk about his children, his niece and nephew constantly," said Bono. "Whenever he had time off he would go see [them] in New Jersey. He was very family oriented."
Staying true to his philosophy, Wildrick's brothers-in-arms of the Continental Color Guard, will dawn honorary colors during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Jan. 13.
"Our hearts will be very heavy during the ceremony because this amazing Soldier is no longer with us," said Caspers, pausing for a moment to collect himself. "I know he would want us to stay strong through this and to remember all the good times."