May 31, 2011

Fallen Virginians honored in capitol ceremony

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen        
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — State officials formally recognized the sacrifice of 237 Virginians who lost their lives in the Global War on Terror, including 10 Virginia Guard Soldiers, during the fifth annual Virginia Wall of Honor Ceremony held May 26 on the south portico of the Virginia Capitol. The pre-Memorial Day ceremony saw 25 new names added to the memorial this year.

 

Virginia National Guard Soldiers killed in the Global War on Terror were among the 237 Virginians remembered at the 2011 Wall of Honor Ceremony held May 26 in Richmond. Representatives from Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard read the names of the Virginians killed in the line of duty as part of the ceremony. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to view more photos on Flickr.

“We do this every year because we understand that freedom is not free, and that for centuries it has been purchased with the cause and the price of American blood,” said Governor Bob McDonnell.

The governor assured the families of the fallen Virginians the state’s commitment to remembering their loved ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and commonwealth would continue. He noted the importance of gathering at the memorial every year to honor the brave men and women of Virginia.

“Five years ago when I was attorney general, I worked together with leaders of the commonwealth to start this Wall of Honor,” said McDonnell. “We did it because we felt it was only appropriate that the governor, the lieutenant governor and the attorney general should gather at least once a year before Memorial Day to be sure that those who made the ultimate sacrificed were properly honored.

A total of 10 Virginia Guard Soldiers have lost their lives to hostile enemy action since September 11, 2001.

Since the beginning of the Global War on Terror, nearly 10 years ago, the Virginia National Guard has deployed more than 12,000 Soldiers and Airmen in support of the many operations involved in the conflict, according to Maj. Gen. Daniel E, Long, Jr., Adjutant General of Virginia. Long also mentioned the ceremony was about the service members of all branches of the armed forces, and the families of the brave warriors who gave their lives for the ideas of their country.

 

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Team acted as escorts for family members attending the 2011 Wall of Honor Ceremony held May 26 in Richmond. Representatives from Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard read the names of the Virginians killed in the line of duty as part of the ceremony. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to view more photos on Flickr.

“These men and women represent the best of this great commonwealth and of this nation. They are the essence of peace and the idea of democracy and freedom,” said Long.  “Their service and sacrifice, and that of their families, have helped build a better America and a better Virginia.

“We will not let their sacrifices pass in vain.”

Representatives from the active, reserve and National Guard components of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, including Lt. Col. James Ring of the Army National Guard, took turns reading all the names of the fallen Virginians. Chaplain (Col.) John Weatherly, the Virginia National Guard state chaplain, gave the opening prayer.

Following the remembrance on Capitol Square, the families of the fallen were invited to walk across the street to the bottom floor of the attorney general’s office to view the Wall of Honor and to pay tribute to their lost loved ones. At the Wall of Honor, the families were given a chance to talk with the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, and the adjutant general.

“This grateful nation must always show its support and its eternal gratitude to those with the courage and the fortitude to swear an oath to the constitution, to don the uniform of the country, and to in fact, sacrifice their lives for the country,” said McDonnell.

Soldiers from the Virginia Guard Funeral Honors Team also provided escorts for family members attending the event.

 

Fallen Virginians are remembered on the Wall of Honor wtih a 7 inch by 14 inch profile and 5 inch by 7 inch photo. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to view more photos on Flickr.

The Virginia Wall of Honor was dedicated in 2007 when McDonnell was attorney general to honor Virginians who have died in the Global War on Terrorism and is located in the lobby of the Virginia Attorney General's office building at 900 E. Main St. All branches of the Armed Services are represented, including the United States Coast Guard, with heroes from the active forces, reserves and National Guard.

The wall itself is 38.5 feet long. Each block frame contains 12 individual profiles. Each individual profile is 7 inches by 14 inches, and each photo is 5 inches by 7 inches.

Accompanying the wall is a framed Virginia State flag, flown in Iraq by Cpl. Jonathan Bowling of Martinsville. Bowling served with the United States Marine Corps Reserve, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division. He was killed in an enemy ambush in Al-Anbar Province, Iraq on Jan. 26, 2005, and the flag was donated to the Wall of Honor by his father, Virginia State Police Master Trooper Darrell Bowling of Martinsville.

In addition, a pair of boots, and a rifle with helmet on top, stands in front of a Virginia and American flag, in a traditional military tribute to the fallen.

The following Virginia Guard Soldiers are remembered on the Virginia Wall of Honor:

Staff Sgt. Craig W. Cherry, 39, of Winchester, Va., and Sgt. Bobby E. Beasley, 36, of Inwood, W.Va., died on Aug. 7, 2004 in Ghazikel, Afghanistan, when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Both soldiers were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division, Winchester, Va.
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Sgt. Nicholas C. Mason, 20, of King George, Va., and Sgt. David A. Ruhren, 20, of Stafford, Va., died Dec. 21, 2004 in Mosul, Iraq, when their dining facility was attacked. Both were assigned to the Army National Guard's 276th Engineer Battalion, West Point, Va.
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Col. Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Va., and Sgt. 1st Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Va., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on Jan. 20, 2007 when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed. Kelly was assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters of the Virginia Army National Guard in Blackstone, Va., and Booker was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, Sandston, Va.
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Sgt. David E. Lambert, 39, of Cedar Bluff, Va., died Oct. 26, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command of the Virginia National Guard.
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Sgt. Derek R. Banks, 24, of Newport News, Va., died Nov. 14, 2007 in San Antonio of wounds suffered Oct. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia National Guard, West Point, Va.
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Staff Sgt. Jeremiah E. McNeal, 23, of Norfolk, Va., died April 6, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia Army National Guard, West Point, Va.
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Sgt. Jesse A. Ault, 28, of Dublin, Va., died April 9, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered in Tunnis, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 429th Brigade Support Battalion, Virginia Army National Guard, Roanoke, Va.

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