By Gunnery Sgt.Jason Bortz, Regimental Combat Team - 5May 20, 2008
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq - Service members gathered at the chapel Friday to honor Army Pfc. Aaron J. Ward, who was killed, May 6, during a combat patrol in western Anbar province, Iraq.
Pfc. Ward, 19, was a military policeman with the 170th Military Police Company, 504th Military Police Battalion, which is attached to Regimental Combat Team 5.
"A hero was stolen away from us," said Army Lt. Col. Daryl Johnson, commanding officer, 716th MP Bn. "He made a difference defending our nation."
Pfc. Ward, who is from Temecula, Calif., had just arrived in Iraq in March but had already made an impression on his unit.
"He always made the best of any situation," said Spc. Nicholas Dechicko, a military policeman with 170th MP Co, during the memorial service.
Everyone who spoke of Pfc. Ward mentioned the smile that was always on his face and the joy that he brought to others around him.
"(Pfc. Ward) was full of energy, full of life and made you smile," said Army Capt. Chad Johnson, commanding officer, 170th MP Co.
Pfc. Ward was given military honors during the memorial service. A last roll call was conducted where Pfc. Ward's name was called, but not answered. After the roll call, a 21-gun salute was conducted in honor of the Soldier. Finally, "Taps" was played by a bugler with the 3rd Marine Air Wing band.
At the conclusion of the military honors, the service members filed by the memorial erected to honor Ward. The memorial consisted of a rifle with a bayonet placed into a block of wood and a pair of boots at the front of the block. Atop the rifle was a helmet with Ward stenciled on the headband, and a set of dog tags with Ward's name on them hung from the rifle.
As the service members filed by, some saluted, some kneeled and held the dog tags, some touched the helmet, but all of them stared at the memorial with a look of respect and sadness in their eyes.
"He was a great Soldier and an excellent friend," said Army Pfc. Eric Giles, a military policeman with 170th MP Co., who has served with Ward since basic training.
Lt. Col. Johnson read a saying that is on the battalion's monument in Fort Campbell, Ky.
It reads, "Our deaths are not ours, they are yours. They will mean what you make them mean. We leave you our deaths; give them meaning. We were young, we have died; please remember us."
"We will remember, we will never forget and we will give meaning to the loss of Private First Class Aaron Joseph Ward," said Lt. Col. Johnson.