3rd Special Forces Group remembers four fallen soldiers
By RACHAEL RILEY | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: May 30, 2019
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — A child's book and small plastic toys joined the yellow carnation and American flag placed at the edge of a memorial stone etched with Sgt. 1st Class Joshua "Zach" Beale's name Wednesday.
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Teagle, command sergeant major of the 3rd Special Forces Group, called out Beale's name along with Staff Sgt. Alexander "Alex" Conrad, Capt. Andrew "Drew" Ross and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Emond. All four were killed in action during the past year.
Stones in their honor join 56 others — with names dating to 2002 — that line the sidewalks outside of 3rd Special Forces Group buildings at Fort Bragg.
Family members traced the letters, knelt or pressed their palms to the warm stones after moments of silence to remember their loved ones.
Col. Nathan Prussian, commander of the 3rd Special Forces Group, thanked the Gold Star families whose soldier was killed in action and the soldiers who attended Wednesday's stone laying ceremony.
"These men loved their country," Prussian said. "They loved their families. They loved their teammates. They loved so deeply that they gave all to protect that which they love ... these men were committed to securing the freedom and liberty that this nation provides. We can not forget that."
Conrad, 26, was killed by enemy fire June 8 in Somalia.
Born in Mesa, Arizona, he enlisted in the Army on June 1, 2010. Conrad was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington as a human intelligence collector after completing basic training.
While stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Conrad deployed twice to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom between 2012 and 2014.
After completing a French basic language course in 2016, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group as a human intelligence noncommissioned officer.
He is survived by his mother, father, sister and brother.
Ross, 29, died from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device on Nov. 27 in Ghanzi, Afghanistan.
Born in Lexington, Virginia, Ross joined the Army on May 21, 2011. He held several positions within the Army's Armor branch before attending the Special Forces assessment and selection course and detachment officer qualification course.
In 2017, Ross was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.
During his career, Ross deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
He is survived by his wife.
Emond, 39, was killed by wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device on Nov. 27 in Ghanzi.
Born in Boston, Emond joined the Marine Corps on June 6, 1997, as an infantryman. He transitioned to the Army National Guard on July 10, 2003.
After transitioning to the West Virginia Army National Guard, Emond attended the Special Forces assessment and selection course in 2005 and was assigned to the 19th Special Forces Group.
After starting his active-duty Army service Oct. 10, 2014, he was assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group.
During his career, Emond served on seven combat deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Freedom's Sentinel and Octave Shield.
He is survived by his wife and three daughters.
Beale, 32, was killed by enemy fire on Jan. 22 in Uruzgan, Afghanistan.
A native of Carrollton, Virginia, Beale enlisted in the Army in 2011 and served for more than seven years.
He attended the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2014 and graduated as a Special Forces weapons sergeant.
After completing the course, Beale was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group.
During his career, Beale served four overseas combat deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism — once to Niger and three times to Afghanistan.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
Maj. "Chaplain" Brian Minietta prayed that the families of the soldiers killed in action would be comforted and strengthened during the time of remembrance.
Minietta referenced a Bible verse which states that "stones would cry out," if silenced.
He said Wednesday's stones "cry out" as well, saying "remember me."
"Help us Lord to never forget the courage, sacrifice and boldness these stones represent," Minietta prayed. "Help us to remember these men, warriors, husbands, fathers, sons, brothers and friends. Let us remember their smiles, their embrace, their encouragement and their lives. These stones cry out to us to heal."
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