Monday, November 13, 2006

The Crew of Alpha 3/2

On Oct. 15 of last year five men from our company were killed by an IED. This Veteran’s Day weekend I thought of them as well as the other two men from Able Company killed last year.

The following words were spoken by our Battalion Commander, Col. Roggeman, at a memorial service honoring their lives.

Combat Outpost, Ramadi Iraq

“Today we mourn the loss of five or our own, SSG Summers, Spc. Byrd, Spc. Hardy, Spc. Corban, and Spc. Watkins, heroes, one and all. They were killed on 15 October fighting for freedom, here around a city called Ramadi. They died patrolling the streets on Iraq’s historic election day, allowing the citizens to vote for peace. They died so others could live free and today we collectively mourn their loss. We lost some or our nation’s greatest resources, young men who had the courage to serve their country, young men who answered our nations call to duty. Yes, today we mourn the loss of some of our nation’s greatest resources, young infantrymen, the crew of Alpha 3/2.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, for he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother. These famous William Shakespeare words from Henry V so accurately describe the camaraderie and brotherly love that is evident in our formation. It’s clearly evident here in Able Company and especially in Alpha 3/2. SSG Summers, Spc. Byrd, Corban, Hardy, and Watkins were indeed a band of brothers. The ultimate bunch, for they lived, slept, worked, fought, and died together as a band of brothers, never hesitating, never doubting, always full of courage, always full of hope. Alpha 3/2 was always up front, always leading by example, and always leading their platoon.

I will always remember the heroic words of SSG Summers of the Alpha 3/2 crew during the 3 October enemy attack on ECP 5. Alpha 3/2 was called upon to lead the Blue platoon on a casevac mission up what turned out to be a heavily IED’d, enemy guarded Rt. Apple. Driving in, around, among, and through 4 IED’s, and an SVBIED, fighting and defeating the terrorists the whole way up.

Able Blue platoon led by Alpha 3/2 accomplished their mission bringing relief and hope to fellow wounded soldiers, all the while defeating the terrorists. Yes Alpha 3/2 accomplished their mission that day like they always did, without much fanfare and bravado but with the quiet confidence of true professionals.

Their Bradley survived hits of over 30 enemy rounds, even lost turret power, but once they returned their only concern was to get back into the fight, to re-arm to re-fit, so they would be ready to go again when called upon. Yes Alpha 3/2 never hesitated nor ever wavered to answer their call to duty. This band of brothers gave selflessly and on 15 October they paid the ultimate sacrifice.

They were true American heroes. SSG Summers, Specialists Byrd, Corban, Hardy, and Watkins, you lived the life of selfless service to the fullest. You touched all of us here today with your undaunted courage and quiet words. You led by example, you fought the good fight, you ran a good race. Well done and be thou at peace.

We, Able Company and the entire Panther Battalion will carry on your fight so that your death will not be in vain. We will continue to take the fight to the enemy. We will continue to close with and destroy our nation’s enemies so that your memory will live on forever, in the Able Company scrolls as well as the Panther Battalion scrolls. That’s our mission, and we will be Victorious, for the memory of SSG Summers, Specialists Byrd, Corban, Hardy, and Watkins, but also for Spc. Mathew Bohling, SSG Jason Benford, those other Strikeforce Able Company soldiers, as well as the rest of the Panther Battalion soldiers who have given their all to this conflict.

Today we mourn the loss of some of our nation’s greatest resources, American Infantrymen. Their families mourn the loss of the most loving and devoted husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. Collectively we are saddened by their loss, but collectively we know that without Alpha 3/2 we must go on, for that’s what they would want us to do.

I don’t know why they were taken from us on 15 October, but I do know that Heaven rejoices with the addition of the crew of Alpha 3/2, five courageous soldiers, five brave infantrymen, and five, most importantly, beautiful young men. May God bless you and keep you, you few, you happy few, you band of brothers.”