Every year, families from across the nation pay their respects and grieve the loss of 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers at the Wreaths for Warriors Walk event Dec. 16 at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Wreaths for Warriors Walk is an annual event that began in 2007 with the goal of placing a Christmas wreath at the memorial of each and every fallen Soldier along the Warriors Walk in coordination with Wreaths Across America as a solemn memorial service.
December 16, 2017 - Families, friends and the Marne community both on and off the installation pay their respects and lay a wreath down for fallen Soldiers at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Wreaths for Warriors Walk was a program established 11 years ago, that invites families of fallen Soldiers, the local community as well as Soldiers at Ft. Stewart to place a Christmas wreath at the trees of fallen 3rd ID Soldiers along the Warriors Walk at Cottrell Field in a solemn memorial service. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Arjenis Nunez)
“I have been working on Fort Stewart for nearly 40 years, and the Soldiers and their Families would go to a tree dedication here before we started this,” said Susan Ammons, the vice president of operations for the event. This gives the Families and friends of the fallen Soldiers the opportunity to meet each other and share grief and ways to deal with the grief of losing their Soldier.”
Nearly 10 different motorcycle clubs from as far as Augusta, Georgia; Girl Scouts, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets as well as Civil Air Patrol cadets and numerous volunteers from the Hinesville, Georgia, community and beyond gathered in support of the event and to lay wreaths down for the fallen Soldiers whose Families that were not able to make the ceremony.
Wreaths for Warriors Walk represents more than just the laying of a wreath as we move into the holiday season, Ammons said. The event is a reminder to Soldiers across the spectrum that their selflessness in defending our nation is never forgotten and always appreciated, he said.
“We begin planning the event as early as June, but we meet in October and then again in November and December to iron out the details,” Ammons said.
The planning and preparation of the event helps Ammons and other coordinators receive more Families and friends of the fallen warriors if they did not make a reservation.
The biggest change since its inception is that more people have become involved, Ammons said. More donations have come in to keep the program going and more people have come to honor 3ID’s fallen heroes.
Everyone’s contributions count, whether it is monetary, volunteering or escorting Families that come to lay a wreath down for their Soldier, Ammons said.
Staff Sgt. Earl N. Fleming, an infantryman assigned to 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 15th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3ID, made sure to do his part and escort Angelina Bueno Ramirez, a Sacramento, California, native and the wife of Fleming’s friend who was killed in action and memorialized on the Warriors Walk.
For Fleming, Warriors Walk is sacred ground that honors the 468 Soldiers who died fighting for the freedoms we enjoy today – five of those Soldiers being friends he built strong bonds with; five Soldiers whose Families he has made his own.
Ramirez and her Family are one of those Families he has adopted as his own.
December 16, 2017 - Staff Sgt. Earl N. Fleming assigned to 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 15th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and Angelina Bueno Ramirez, mother of a fallen Soldier and friend to Fleming, lay a wreath at the memorial for her son Spc. Ray A. Ramirez at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Spc. Ramirez was an infantryman assigned to 3-15, 15th Armored Brigade Combat Team when he was killed in action four and a half year ago on December 1st. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Arjenis Nunez)
“He would have been 25-years old this year,” Ramirez said of her son Spc. Ray A. Ramirez, an infantryman assigned to 3-15 Inf., 15th Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3ID.
With tears full of pride and a smile emitting a mother’s warmth, Ramirez recalled the kind of man her son was: he was a man whose laugh filled the loudest room; a man too stubborn to fail at anything he set his mind to.
“My favorite memory of him was him on the pitcher’s mound during a baseball game,” Ramirez said. “His team was behind and he was determined to strike out the batter so his team could come up and win it. He and I made eye contact and he knew that he had it in him and that look reminded him that he had this and he smiled.”
Spc. Ramirez struck the batter out and made it possible for his team to come to bat and contend for the win.
“I hope that those who come across Warriors Walk and see the 468 Soldiers honored here, approach life with more meaning, understand the sacrifices it took to get us here and remember that their sacrifices were not for nothing,” said Ramirez.
By U.S. Army Sgt. Arjenis Nunez
Provided through DVIDS
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