Memorial honors 1st AD troops killed in Iraq
Stars and Stripes May 23, 2008
WIESBADEN, Germany — Several names into the roll call of the fallen, the light breeze noticeably stiffened, giving the flags held by an Army honor guard a louder snap, as if it were a long, final salute.
"A lot of people forget about them," Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Solis, of the 123rd Main Support Battalion in Dexheim, Germany, said afterward. "They read the paper, see the names — and that’s often it."
For the second time in four years, the 1st Armored Division dedicated a monument to its soldiers killed in Iraq. The names of all 117 individuals were read aloud Thursday afternoon as scores of soldiers stood at attention outside division headquarters at Wiesbaden Army Airfield. The dedication was part of an observance for Memorial Day.
"The amazing success of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq did not come without a cost," said Col. James McGinnis Jr., the division’s rear detachment commander. "This memorial, which we dedicate today, is for the Iron Soldiers who gave their full measure."
Like its predecessor, the charcoal-gray monument comes from India. The words and names and passages etched in the granite were the work of German engravers.
The first monument, dedicated in October 2004, included the names of 130 soldiers. This latest marker commemorates 1st AD soldiers who died in the line of duty during deployments between 2005 and 2008.
Following McGinnis to the lectern was Sue Hertling, wife of Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, the 1st AD commander who is currently serving in Iraq. She repeatedly referred to the 117 soldiers — and, really, to all servicemembers sent to war — as "our nation’s very best."
"When we send them off to war," Sue Hertling said, "we know that some of them will never come home again to mom and dad, to the girl who is the love of his life or to the guy who is her Prince Charming, to brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grammas and grandpas, to little boys and little girls who call them mommy or daddy."
"They are our nation’s best," she added. "They make a commitment to give their all for us — and when they don’t come home, the decisions we make become the measure of our commitment to them. We have an obligation to honor their memories in the way we lead our lives, each and every day."