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Post Remembers Fallen Soldiers
by Army Sgt. Heather Denby - December 3, 2011

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FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (11/30/2011) -- Soldiers, families and friends gathered at the Main Post Chapel, Thursday, Nov. 10, to attend a joint memorial service commemorating the lives of three post soldiers killed in action earlier this month.

1st Lt. Ivan Lechowich, Spc. Steven Gutowski and Pfc. David Drake died Sept. 28 in Afghanistan of injuries suffered when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device while conducting route clearance.

Memorial display for three fallen soldiers assigned to the 515th Engineer Company remembered at the Main Post Chapel Nov. 10, 2011. 1st Lt. Ivan Lechowich, Spc. Steven Gutowski and Pfc. David Drake died Sept. 28 in Afghanistan of injuries suffered when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device while conducting route clearance. Photo by Army Sgt. Heather Denby
Memorial display for three fallen soldiers assigned to the 515th Engineer Company remembered at the Main Post Chapel Nov. 10, 2011. 1st Lt. Ivan Lechowich, Spc. Steven Gutowski and Pfc. David Drake died Sept. 28 in Afghanistan of injuries suffered when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device while conducting route clearance. Photo by Army Sgt. Heather Denby

All three soldiers were assigned to the 515th Engineer Company, 5th Engineer Battalion also known as the "Fightin' Fifth."

Lt. Col. Christopher McGowan, 5th Engineer Bn. commander, spoke of the soldiers with tears in his eyes.

"These soldiers have given more and sacrificed more than anyone should have to," he said. "[But] we know that during these most difficult and challenging times we must stand up and say 'If not me, then who - if not now, then when.'"

While acting as platoon leader, Lechowich identified several tactics, techniques and plans that could be improved while assisting the unit mission to identify possible hazards on high-traffic roads utilized by American and coalition forces in the Ghazni province.

"We would patrol several clicks of road each day and every day [Lechowich] would push us to go a little farther, look a little further," said Sgt. Johnathan Hall, a combat engineer assigned to 515th Engineer Company.

The efforts of Lechowich and his soldiers led to the identification of approximately 40 explosive devices in a single month of reconnaissance.

"Our sappers will continue to execute this dangerous, but critically important mission downrange," said McGowan. "They do this not only to protect our forces, but also to honor the memory of the fallen fighters we remember here today."

By Army Sgt. Heather Denby
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2011

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