101st Airborne - Stripes

Close-knit military community feels pain of deaths in wars the nation has forgotten

A 101st Airborne Division soldier prays at the memorial service for Sgt. William Bays, who was killed in action in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan on June 10, 2017.

MICHAEL S. DARNELL/STARS AND STRIPES

By DIANNA CAHN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 30, 2017

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Rain came in a deluge on the Friday of Sgt. William Bays’ funeral.

“He was a friend, a peer, a husband,” Sgt. Lucas Schultze, a fellow soldier of the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, cried as he spoke of the more senior comrade who taught him to lead. “A father, a son and a brother.”

Mourners filed out of the chapel on Fort Campbell, ducking into dry cars that maneuvered into formation.

“A great mentor,” Schultze said.

The procession crossed the base that straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border, past training grounds where members of the 101st Airborne Division prepare for war, past buildings where they reunite with loved ones when they return and past the headquarters where a long corridor bears the names of the thousands of “Screaming Eagle” soldiers who didn’t make it home. In wars that most have forgotten about, troops are still dying from hostile fire.

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