Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th Infantry
Division and Fort Carson, presents Joshua Blackwell, 4, a gold medal
of remembrance during a Survivor Outreach Services recognition
ceremony on Aug. 22, 2011 located outside the Fallen Heroes Family Center at
Fort Carson. Joshua's father, Spc. Justin Blackwell, died in August
2007 of wounds from a mortar attack in Iraq. Photo by Dustin Senger
Morgan Aschan, 11, and Wyatt Aschan, 14, talk to local reporters after a Survivor Outreach Services recognition ceremony
on Aug. 22, 2011 located outside the Fallen Heroes Family Center at Fort Carson. Their father, Maj. Shawn Aschan, drowned last month while stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va. Wyatt said the medal would embody his favorite memories of his father.
Photo by Dustin Senger
FORT CARSON, Colo. (8/25/2011) — Dozens of children, representing
the loss of a parent in military service, gathered in a garden near
the Rocky Mountain Front Range Aug. 22, where Army officers shook
their hands and presented medals.
The summer morning marked
the first medal of remembrance ceremony at Fort Carson, according to
Army officials. The presentation culminated a recognition ceremony
outside the Fallen Heroes Family Center, which opened last fall.
Army leaders explained expanding support by the facility's Survivor
The Fort Carson medals were inspired by
the Gold Medal of Remembrance for the Sons and Daughters of Our
Fallen Act of 2011. Introduced in May, the legislation grants a
national “Gold Medal of Remembrance” to the children of each service
member who dies as a result of wounds, injuries or illnesses —
retroactive to 9/11.
“We're all united in honoring our fallen
heroes and caring for their families,” said Col. Robert F.
McLaughlin, garrison commander, standing at a podium near a table
holding almost 50 medals. Each case had the name of a child and a
parent, a bond recently broken by combat, suicide and other
“And especially for our kids,” said McLaughlin.
“For the families of the fallen, on this day, we pay tribute to them
and their fallen loved one. Because in the end, it's really all
about them. They are our future.”
Next to the awards, a
shaded bleacher of children exhibited a mix of emotions. One-by-one,
they met Brig. Gen. James H. Doty, acting senior commander, 4th
Infantry Division and Fort Carson.
“I told him he was going
to receive a medal for his daddy, since he's unable to be here,”
said Ariana Garza, mother of Christian Hernandez, 5. The child acted
enthusiastic about adding the decoration to his father's collection
of medals, she said. His father, Staff Sgt. Juan Hernandez, died of
suicide in October 2009.
“It's going to help give him
comfort,” said Garza, suggesting the ceremony would remind Christian
that other children have also lost a parent.
11, was the first to receive a medal, followed by Wyatt Aschan, 14.
Wyatt said the medal would embody his favorite memories of his
father, Maj. Shawn Aschan. The soldier drowned last month while
stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va. The family had been preparing for a
move to Colorado Springs.
“I felt sad,” said Wyatt, recalling
the moment the Army general placed the medal over his shoulders. “I
was starting to realize he's gone and I won't see him again.”
Despite the realization, Wyatt said the ceremony will help him heal
from the loss of his father.
Joshua Blackwell, 4, dressed in
an Army camouflage uniform, turned to the crowd of observers, filled
his chest with air and opened his arms, a gesture that drew audience
attention to his new medal.
“(The ceremony) reminds everyone
that these men were not just soldiers, they have families too — they
are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads,” said
Joshua's mother, Allyson Wyatt, widow of Spc. Justin Blackwell. The
soldier died in August 2007 of wounds from a mortar attack in Iraq.
“It's nice to have somewhere to go ... where people know
what you're going through,” said Chantel Aschan, widow of
Shawn Aschan, describing the Fallen Heroes Family Center at
Fort Carson. “The people here have been unbelievable ...
amazing. They don't want you to worry about anything.”
By Dustin Senger
Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
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