FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq (Army News Service, May. 27, 2008) -- Task Force Vanguard Soldiers honored their fallen brothers during a Memorial Day service May 26 here, 60 kilometers south of Baghdad.

"I am truly humbled to stand before these great warriors, who are recognized here by these symbols: a picture, a weapon, a helmet and boots," said Col. Thomas James, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "But more importantly, their spirit is here with us today, not only here forward but in our hearts and our memories."

Vanguard Soldiers and civilians came together to honor the 59 Vanguard warriors, 45 in Operation Iraqi Freedom III and 14 in the current OIF rotation, who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their nation.

"Today our nation pauses and reflects on the honor, duty and sacrifices of our fallen heroes; heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice on the field of battle to secure our nation's freedom and security," James said.

Task Force Vanguard consists of more than 3,600 Soldiers committed to enduring freedom at home, and continues its momentum across the sea to the vast desert and river valleys of Iraq, James said.

"With 4,081 killed in action in Iraq, 497 killed in Afghanistan, the youth of our nation continue to fight and die for causes larger than themselves," James said. "These young Soldiers are part of an unending line of proud citizens who answered our nation's call to duty."

The 14 Soldiers individually honored in the Memorial Day service were:

-- Pfc. Shane D. Penley, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment
-- Sgt. Samuel E. Kelsey, Company E, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment
-- Capt. Nathan R. Raudenbush, Company D, 3-7th Inf. Regt.
-- Pfc. Tyler J. Smith-Co. E, 3-7th Inf. Regt.
-- Sgt. Jevon K. Jordan, Company C, 3-7th Inf. Regt.
-- Spc. Kyle P. Norris, Company A, 3-7th Inf. Regt.
-- Spc. James D. Gudridge, Company A, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment
-- Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Hake, Co. A, 4-64th Armor Regt.
-- Spc. Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, Co. A, 4-64th Armor Regt.
-- Pfc. Andrew J. Habsieger, Co. A, 4-64th Armor Regt.
-- Pvt. George Delgado, Co. A, 4-64th Armor Regt.
-- Spc. Joshua R. Anderson, Troop B, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment
-- Staff Sgt. Shaun J. Whitehead, Company A, 2-502nd Inf. Regt.
-- Pvt. Ronald R. Harrison, Company E, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion

When each fallen Soldier's name was announced, two Soldiers from his unit came forward and placed a flag honoring their fallen comrade.

"It is the service of the Soldiers around the world and especially in this combat zone that mark their sacrifices," James said. "Their families also answered the call of duty through their unwavering support for their loved ones who willingly risked their personal safety for the preservation of something greater than themselves."

James, along with the battalion commanders and command sergeants major, laid a wreath in honor of the fallen comrades.

"I would like to close my remarks today by remembering the service and sacrifice of Task Force Vanguard's first fallen warrior, Sgt. Samuel Kelsey, who was killed during combat operations in December 2007 in the small town of Khidr," James said. "Sergeant Kelsey died trying to assist in the recovery of one of his Soldiers, Corporal McGuire, immediately after McGuire himself had fallen victim to an improvised explosive device."

While moving toward McGuire so he could provide aid, Kelsey himself stepped on a pressure plate that detonated another explosion. It was that explosion that killed him

"Sergeant Kelsey knew and understood the warrior ethos, he was instinctively moving toward a fallen comrade in spite of obvious danger," James said. "He, like the Task Force Vanguard fallen warriors before and after him, lived the Soldier's Creed and was willing to die for the freedoms we enjoy and for his fellow Soldiers."