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Final Roll Call For 10-Year-Old Spc. Rowan Windham
by U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Elizabeth Pena, Texas Military Department
February 15, 2017

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There wasn’t a dry eye in sight during the final Roll Call ceremony, for the honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Windham, Jan. 24, 2017, at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas.

A final roll call ceremony is a military ritual designed to serve as a tribute paid by soldiers to their deceased comrade.

January 24, 2017 - Photos of honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Wyndham (10) are displayed during a final roll call ceremony conducted by the Texas Military Department at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. The roll call serves as a memorial ceremony to represent the permanent loss of a soldier. Windham spent the majority of his 10 years battling a rare genetic disorder called Shwachman-Diomand syndrome. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
January 24, 2017 - Photos of honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Wyndham (10) are displayed during a final roll call ceremony conducted by the Texas Military Department at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. The roll call serves as a memorial ceremony to represent the permanent loss of a soldier. Windham spent the majority of his 10 years battling a rare genetic disorder called Shwachman-Diomand syndrome. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

Each soldier sounds off, “Here, first sergeant!” when their name is called. But on this day, the auditorium fell silent as Windham’s name was echoed throughout the packed room. “Spc. Rowan Windham…”

Traditionally, the ceremony includes a visible reminder of the deceased soldier. The head gear and identification tags signify the fallen. In most cases, an inverted rifle with bayonet, but this case a wooden cross and gear stand, signals a time for prayer, a break in action to pay tribute to their comrade.

“He was an incredible kid,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Weedon, senior enlisted advisor for the Texas Military Department. “He did more in his small 10 years of life, than some of us do in a lifetime.”

Windham’s ever lasting impact on the Texas Military Department was evident during the emotional roll call ceremony, as hundreds of service members came to pay their respects with Kleenex in hand.

Also present at the roll call ceremony were Windhams parents.

“He would be crying happy tears as Rowan would say,” said Brian Windham, father of Rowan. “He would be skipping out of here with joy,” said Carrie Windham, mother of Rowan, through her own tears of happiness.

January 24, 2017 - A folded American flag with photos of  honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Windham (10) with fellow soldiers are displayed at Windham's final roll call ceremony conducted by the Texas Military Department at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. The roll call serves as a memorial ceremony to represent the permanent loss of a soldier. Windham spent the majority of his 10 years battling a rare genetic disorder called Shwachman-Diomand syndrome. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
January 24, 2017 - A folded American flag with photos of  honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Windham (10) with fellow soldiers are displayed at Windham's final roll call ceremony conducted by the Texas Military Department at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. The roll call serves as a memorial ceremony to represent the permanent loss of a soldier. Windham spent the majority of his 10 years battling a rare genetic disorder called Shwachman-Diomand syndrome. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

Windham was born with a rare disease, and spent the majority of his 10 years in a hospital battling a genetic disorder called Shwachman-Diomand syndrome.

The young trooper became a member of the Texas Military Department, just two years prior, at the age of eight, during an honorary enlistment ceremony at Camp Mabry, where he was awarded the military occupation specialties of Cavalry Scout and Apache Pilot.

“Thank you and this is the best day ever of my whole entire life,” Windham said in front of hundreds of people, following his enlistment ceremony in March of 2015.

On Dec. 15, 2016, Windham took his final breath at the Seattle Children's Hospital, following complications from two consecutive bone marrow transplants.

January 24, 2017 - Texas Military Department conducts final roll call ceremony, for the honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Windham at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Traditionally, the ceremony includes a visible reminder of the deceased soldier. In this case a wooden cross and gear stand, signals a time for prayer, a break in action to pay tribute to their comrade. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)
January 24, 2017 - Texas Military Department conducts final roll call ceremony, for the honorary Texas Army National Guard Spc. Rowan Jameson Windham at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. Traditionally, the ceremony includes a visible reminder of the deceased soldier. In this case a wooden cross and gear stand, signals a time for prayer, a break in action to pay tribute to their comrade. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

A native Texan, Windham was an avid, thespian, video gamer, Lego builder, chef, Bigfoot fan and philanthropist who touched the lives of thousands around the world.

He is survived by his father Brian, his mother Carrie, his sister Zoe, his brother Ian, family members, friends and Texas Guardsmen across the force.

By U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Elizabeth Pena
Texas Military Department
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2017

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