FORT BRAGG, NC — The United States Army Special Operations Command paid tribute to fallen comrades killed in combat during the past year with a somber ceremony at Meadows Memorial Plaza, May 26.
The ceremony was the culmination of a full day all-star treatment for the Gold Star families of 30 Army Special Operation Soldiers killed during combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., Commanding General, USASOC, addressed an audience of more than 500 fellow Soldiers, family members, friends and special guests.
“We are here to honor a select few men who made the choice to honor a different path,” Mulholland said. “Their sacrifice is something that we will never forget.”
Approximately 250 family members of the fallen warriors traveled from across the country to participate in the ceremony held on the Meadows Memorial Plaza. Following the unveiling of the personalized nameplates, family members, servicemembers and friends celebrated the life and military service of their loved ones as they approached the wall to place roses at its base and touch the engraved legacy of courage and selfless sacrifice of their Soldier.
Mulholland said that the families are important to the Soldiers and that we can never fully feel that exceptional lost that they have endured. However, we have a sense of it through the comradeship that was forged as only Soldiers can.
Among the distinguished guests in attendance were former presidential candidate and staunch supporter of Special Forces H. Ross Perot. Jr.; famed actor and patron of military families, Gary Sinise, and a host of active and retired flag officers and local dignitaries.
The Memorial Wall, originally listed Soldiers killed in action during combat in Vietnam, was updated in the 1980s to include Soldiers who were missing-in-action or declared dead. The wall was later expanded to include all Army Special Operations Soldiers killed-in-action from 1983 to the present.
At the end of the ceremony, the families and friends of the fallen Solders moved back toward the wall to preserve this moment in time by capturing the impression of the respective loved one’s nameplate with rubbings.
Mulholland concluded his remarks by restated the importance of this ceremony and the honor in remembering our fallen Soldiers.
“Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” said Mulholland.
The names of the following Soldiers were added to the Memorial Wall during the ceremony:
Operation Enduring Freedom: Sgt. Nicholas A. Robertson, Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey, Capt. Ronald G. Luce, Sgt. 1st Class William B. Woods, Jr., Sgt. 1st Class David J. Hartman, Sgt. Joel D. Clarkson, Cpl. Michael D. Jankiewicz, Sgt. Ronald A. Kubik, Sgt. Jason A. Santora, Master Sgt. Mark W. Coleman, Capt. Kyle A. Comfort, Sgt. Jonathan K. Peney, Sgt. Andrew J. Creighton, Spc. Joseph W. Dimock II, Sgt. Anibal Santiago, Sgt. Justin B. Allen, Capt. Jason E. Holbrook, Staff Sgt. Kyle R. Warren, Master Sgt. Jared N. Van Aalst, Sgt. Andrew C. Nicol, Spc. Bradley D. Rappuhn, Sgt. Matin A. Lugo, Spc. Christopher S. Wright, Sgt. 1st Class Ronald A. Grider, Sgt. 1st Class Calvin B. Harrison, Sgt. 1st Class Lance H. Vogeler, Staff Sgt. Kevin Pape and Sgt. 1st Class Dae Han Park.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: Cpl. Ryan C. McGhee and Staff Sgt. James R. Patton.