Bliss remembers the fallen of Ready First

Fort Bliss

POSTED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 7:41pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 7:44pm

Memorial Day is a time to honor the service members who have selflessly given their lives for their country. First Armored Division and Fort Bliss remembered the recently fallen Soldiers with 1st Brigade, 1st AD, during a Field of Honor ceremony, Friday.

The Field of Honor serves as a reminder of the costs associated with America’s freedom and recognizes those who have fallen in combat in that pursuit.

“These are men who, when they heard the call of, ‘Who shall I send?’ responded, ‘Send me,’” said Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, 1st AD and Fort Bliss commanding general. “When a young man or woman lays down their life for the rest of us, it leaves us struggling to find a way to express our sorrow and gratitude. No words can ever suffice, so we erect monuments like this one.”

Ten Soldiers were honored during the ceremony, all who served with the Ready First brigade. The brigade deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan – the birthplace of the Taliban—from late 2012 until September 2013. 

“We got picked to go to one of the worst areas in southern Afghanistan, and we knew that going in,” said Lt. Col. Tom Anderson, the former battalion commander for 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment. “Knowing that really helped us get the Soldiers focused and ready. We were pleasantly surprised at the security my Soldiers provided, it turned out pretty phenomenal.”

Anderson’s battalion lost three Soldiers, Spcs. Mitchell Daehling, William Gilbert and Cody Towse, with Company A, 3rd Bn., 41st Inf. Regt., during a patrol May 14, 2013.

Also lost during the deployment were Spcs. Kevin Cardoza, Thomas Murach, Brandon Prescott, Staff Sgt. Francis Phillips, IV and 1st Lt. Brandon Landrum, with Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 1st Bn., 36th Inf. Regt., 1st AD, May 4, 2013; Spc. Kyle Stoeckli, Co. C, 1st Bn., 36th Inf. Regt., June 1, 2013; and Staff Sgt. Robert Thomas, Jr., HHC, 1st Bn., 36th Inf. Regt., Sept. 13, 2013.

“This brigade has borne the brunt of the sacrifice and sorrow of Fort Bliss’ contribution to the war,” said MacFarland. “That is nothing new to the Ready First.”

MacFarland, who served as the Ready First commander in Iraq several years earlier, remembered the brigade serving in one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq and suffering more casualties than any other brigade. He recalled the temporary memorials made while deployed – the battlefield cross, to honor lost brothers- and sisters-in-arms.

“Today we will make a more permanent memorial tribute,” said MacFarland. “On the wall here at the Field of Honor, are now the names of 87 Soldiers who were killed in combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan.” 

Though the brigade suffered many losses during their deployment, Soldiers used their sorrow to find strength and connect within themselves and each other. “We all come from different walks of life,” said Anderson. “But we are all from the same family. These types of events show that bond where Soldiers stand shoulder-to-shoulder while we fight.” 

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