FORT STEWART, Ga. - The families and close friends of the
soldiers sat under the tent, holding each other and struggling to
maintain composure. Behind them rows of soldiers stood, almost as if
forming a protective wall for those in front.
But as a
somber drizzle fell from the overcast sky, and the first notes of
“America the Beautiful” echoed throughout the crowd, nothing could
shield the attendees from the reason they were there.
April 18, 2013 ... eight new Eastern Redbud trees were added to Fort
Stewart's Warrior's Walk, each representing a Marne Division hero
who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation while
serving in Afghanistan.
Family members of the fallen soldiers are escorted down
Warrior's Walk at the beginning of the tree dedication ceremony at
Fort Stewart, GA on April 18, 2013. Eight soldiers from the 3rd
Infantry Division were honored with trees after making the ultimate
sacrifice in Afghanistan last month. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Emily
During the dedication ceremony, 3rd Infantry Division
deputy commander-rear Brigadier Gen. John Hort took time to
talk about the professional, and personal, qualities of each
Staff Sgt. Rex Schad was a 26-year-old
native of Edmond, Okla., attached to A Company, 3rd
Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat
Team, who was known for his jovial attitude, outspokenness
and confidence. He was a stand-out rifle squad leader and
had a unique capability to develop teams and subordinates.
He had ambitions to go to college and become an officer. He
was a loyal Oklahoma City Thunder fan and he was a marathon
runner. He is survived by his family.
Knutson-Cullen was a 27-year-old native of Eldersburg, Md.,
attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd
Combat Aviation Brigade. She was a professional and
intelligent officer who was focused on the success of her
unit. She had a knack for having an immediate and positive
impact on those she knew, especially her soldiers. She was
an accomplished traveler and lover of fine wine. She is
survived by her loving husband.
Chief Warrant Officer
II Bryan Henderson was a 27-year-old native of Franklin,
La., attached to B Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd CAB, and
wanted nothing more than to fly helicopters. His superb
aviation skills and ability to teach were unparalleled and
were the main reason he was an instructor pilot for his
battalion. He also loved to scuba dive, water-ski, and was a
legendary grill master and carpenter. He is survived by his
wife and daughter.
Staff Sgt. Mark Scialdo was a
31-year-old native of Naples, Fla., attached to B Company,
603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd CAB. He was a humble
and caring man who had the ability to lead his soldiers
through any situation with a smile on his face. He was
responsible to train his brigade's downed aircraft recovery
team. The only thing that surpassed his love for the Army
was his love for his wife.
Staff Sgt. Steven Blass
was a 27-year-old native of Estherville, Iowa, attached to B
Company, 4th Bn., 3rd CAB, who loved America and the
American way of life. He was a crew chief who passionately
loved his job, and was a flight instructor and trainer. He
was a huge fan of Star Wars, a good cup of coffee, and his
favorite brand of beer. He is survived by his wife and son.
Those that knew him said you couldn't have a conversation
with him without hearing about his family.
Zachary Shannon was a 21-year-old native of Dunedin, Fla.,
attached to B Company, 4th Bn., 3rd CAB. He was an extremely
hardworking soldier who exuded confidence and always had a
knack for putting smiles on his coworkers faces. He was
rarely angry, and his positive attitude and comical comments
always brightened the mood. He was a cherished friend and
dedicated soldier. Shannon is survived by his family.
Spc. David Proctor was a 26-year-old native of
Greensboro, N.C., attached to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th
Infantry Regiment, 1st ABCT. He was an exceptionally
intelligent soldier who loved his job as an infantryman. His
squad leader often stated he was “too darn smart to be one
of us.” He was soft-spoken and respectful, and had a gift
for making everyone around him feel comfortable. He was an
incredibly loyal friend and dedicated soldier. He had
intended to apply to officer candidate school and was a
die-hard fisherman. He is survived by his wife.
Warrant Officer III James Groves III was a 37-year-old
native of Kettering, Ohio, attached to B Company, 3rd
Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd CAB. He brightened
every room he entered, and served as a role model and
mentor. He had served 19 years of active duty military
service. He was an avid runner, and always wore a distinct
orange boony cap during races. He was a proud husband and
Hort closed the remembrance by reminding
everyone that each soldiers' sacrifice for others and
dedication to duty will never be forgotten.
soldiers joined the ranks of the fallen, and the number of
trees on Warrior's Walk rose to 453, Henderson's mother, Kim
Bryan Henderson, had one quiet plea for the future.
“I know everybody will remember him here, I just hope the
rest of the country does, and that they make what he's doing
By U.S. Army Sgt. Emily Knitter
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