Kabul, Afghanistan – Soldiers from the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan unveiled a memorial dedicated to its fallen brethren killed in Operation Enduring Freedom during a ceremony at Camp Vance, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, April 9.
It was a somber occasion as formations of Soldiers observed a moment of silence while the monument, dedicated to those CJSOTF-A soldiers who have died in service to their nation, made its second debut.
Standing in its humble grandeur in front of the CJSOTF-A headquarters, aptly draped in an olive drab parachute, the new memorial was rededicated at the site of the new headquarters which moved to a new location on Bagram Airfield.
“Today, once more, we set in stone the anchor which honors our past, and sets a standard of excellence for the future,” said the CJSOTF-A commander, Col. Gus Benton II.
Ninety six names have been etched into the marble stone of the memorial over the past seven years beginning with Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, of Cheshire, Mass., who was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, of Fort Campbell, Ky. Petithory was killed in action Dec. 5, 2001.
“We are here today,” said Benton, “to honor the selfless service and sacrifice of the men of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force; to preserve the memory of their service to their nation, and set an example for future generations; so that they will never forget and will continue forward.”
“These soldiers to whom we pay special homage are much more than names on a wall or gravestone,” Benton added, “they are symbols of our march toward a time when the world order will stand for justice, democracy, and economic freedom.”
Benton, along with the CJSOTF-A Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Peters, slowly peeled away the chute to reveal the newest tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“It is absolutely critical for us to both remember and to mark the occurrences of that incredible loss of life for something much greater than ourselves,” said Peters.
“We take the time here to recognize them because we understood them before when they were alive, we appreciated them in their passing, we honor them every day and we will always remember what they have meant to both us and this great nation,” added Peters.
“Let us not mourn in sadness for the loss of these extraordinary men,” said Benton, “but rather revel in their greatness, be honored to have served alongside them, remember them, and thank God that such men lived. De Oppresso Liber.”