There are no words to describe what 2009 has been like. For my family, and those of 5th Brigade here at Post, nearly 6 months ago we said our goodbyes to the ones who mean the world to us and, even for those of us who have experienced deployment before, nothing could have prepared us for what has taken place this year.
Each face of our fallen heroes, and each roll call I've stood at during the memorials - hearing the names of these men called over and over with complete silence, is etched in my mind. Hearing Amazing Grace played on bagpipes sometimes week after week, and most certainly month after month, has forever brought new meaning to that song for many of us. While I've sat among grieving widows and friends here, my husband & best friend has prayed over many of these men when they arrived at Kandahar, or performed the memorial for those in his battalion downrange. As I write this, he's preparing to do that for Staff Sgt. Gutierrez, killed Christmas Day, and my heart is heavy for his wife and three kids and the men who fought alongside him.
If I could pinpoint one consistent thought I've had over and over again these last several months, it's that these men have given their lives and I don't want people to go on living as if nothing is taking place on foreign soil. Not only have we lost a lot of Soldiers, many have also been wounded (nearly 40 in our brigade alone)...and all have been in some way changed - that's a cold, hard fact of war. The days are long, difficult and at times I'm sure very lonely. Our husbands, fathers, sons (I use all masculine because we're an Infantry unit) and friends are laying down their lives for us and we must NEVER forget them and their families. It's our job here to make sure we are taking care of our widows and their children, as well as to remember and pray for the safety of those who continue to fight as we go about our daily lives in comfort.
If you can read the names below and not shed a tear, I'm going to ask you to tell me how. So many lives are forever changed, and 2009 will be a year many of us will never forget. I hope it will become a year that no one forgets because of these brave men, and many, many others who've laid down their lives for you and me. Finish out this year remembering our Fallen Heroes. Remember and pray for their families. Commit to pray for our Soldiers who must continue on in this war, despite all the loss they've already encountered. If your family has not had to go through such tragedy this year, cling tightly to them and love them like never before in 2010.
If your Soldier is listed below, know that you are dearly loved and being prayed for continually, and that our door is always open to you and your children. Each man listed below gave his life for our freedom. These are only the ones from our brigade. As of today, in 2009, 319 United State Soldiers gave their lives in Afghanistan, and 150 in Iraq this year alone. Please don't skip reading the names of these men. Pray for each family represented. Also pray for the nearly 40 men in our brigade that are wounded and recovering, as well as their families.
OUR FALLEN HEROES:
Army Staff Sgt. Gutierrez, David, age 35, died 12/25/2009
Army Spc. Aaron Aamot, age 22, died 11/5/2009
Army Spc. Gary Gooch Jr., age 22, died 11/5/2009
Army Pfc. Brian Bates, age 20, died 10/27/2009
Army Sgt. Fernando Delarosa, age 24, died 10/27/2009
Army Staff Sgt. Luis Gonzalez, age 27, died 10/27/2009
Army Sgt. Dale Griffin, age 29, died 10/27/2009
Army Sgt. Issac Jackson, age 27, died 10/27/2009
Army Spc. Jared Stanker,age 22, died 10/27/2009
Army Pfc. Christopher Walz, age 25, died 10/27/2009
Army Sgt. Patrick Williamson, age 24, died 10/27/2009
Army Spc. Kyle Coumas died, age 22, 10/21/2009
Army Spc. Michael Dahl Jr., age 23, died 10/17/2009
Army Res. Cpt. Benjamin Sklaver, age 32, died 10/2/2009
Army Res. Pfc. Alan Newton, age 26, died 10/2/2009
Army Spc. Kevin Graham, age 27, died 9/26/2009
Army Sgt. Robert Gordon, age 22, died 9/16/2009
Army Sgt. Andrew McConnell, age 24, died 9/14/2009
Army Lt. David Wright II, age 26, died 9/14/2009
Army Pfc. Jordan Brochu, age 20, died 8/31/2009
Army Spc. Tyler Walshe, age 21, died 8/31/2009
Army Spc. Jonathan Welch, age 19, died 8/31/2009
Army Capt. John Hallett III, age 30, died 8/25/2009
Army Capt. Cory Jenkins, age 30, died 8/25/2009
Army Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Sawyer, age 38, died 8/25/2009
Army Spc. Dennis Williams, age 24, died 8/25/2009
Army Spc. Troy Tom, 21, age died 8/18/2009
Army Pfc. Jonathan Yanney, age 20, died 8/18/2009
I want to leave you with the words spoken by my husband to his Soldiers at one of their memorials downrange:
Every Soldier lost in battle is a pain felt by the whole. These men have left their mark on history as well as on the lives of every Soldier with whom they have served. In the years to come, when peace and stability are finally restored to the war torn country of Afghanistan; it will be in large part due to the courage and sacrifice of these Soldiers.