Arrowhead Soldiers almost directly left a celebration of their return from a war zone Tuesday to attend a more somber ceremony in honor of their 25 fellow warriors who didnt return from Afghanistan.
The Soldiers of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, gathered to rededicate the brigades Fallen Heroes Memorial on Joint Base Lewis-McChord to the memories of all who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
It was just 15 months ago that many of the same Soldiers gathered at the same memorial in advance of their deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This gathering, however, was a much more solemn occasion.
Tuesdays rededication of the Arrowhead Memorial brought to JBLM several of its wounded warriors, as well as the sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, wives, sisters, brothers and friends of those Arrowhead Brigade Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Afghanistan. Their 129 names are etched into the granite base of the six-foot bronze memorial statue erected in 2007.
We dedicate this monument to the memory of our friends, our battle buddies and our heroes, said Charles Webster, 3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. commander. May they always hold the high ground, always be on point and always lead from the front.
Special guests were introduced and Arrowhead Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Murphy welcomed and thanked all attendees. Webster and Murphy laid a memorial wreath; a firing battery from 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment rendered the traditional firing of three volleys; and the brigade chaplain called the names of all 25 fallen Soldiers who died during the brigades deployment to Afghanistan.
At the conclusion, Gold Star family members approached the memorial wall where the names of their loved ones are now permanently etched. Many traced the names of their Soldiers in charcoal as keepsakes. The memorial is important for the Soldiers of the unit, Murphy said, making ceremonies like Tuesdays special for them as well as friends and family of the fallen Soldiers. It provides a place to mourn their losses, he said, but also shows their loved ones deaths were not in vain.