Memorial Day Tears
(May 31, 2010)
Army Major Ronald “Wayne” Culver
ALI BASE, Iraq (5/31/2010 - AFNS)
This Memorial Day in
Iraq, I have shed many tears for a Soldier I never met.
I was asked to videotape a memorial service for an Army
major killed in action May 24 when an improvised explosive
device pierced his Mine Resistant-Ambush Protected vehicle
near Numaniyah in southern Iraq.
The memorial service started at 9:45 a.m. May 27 at Memorial
Hall on COB Adder.
The hall was hot and sweaty. Seats were set for 560 people
and it was already half-full as Soldiers waited for the
10:15 start time.
Very quiet with hardly a whisper or sound of a weapon placed
on the concrete floor. A projector cast photos of him on a
screen at the front of the stage.
Soldiers filed in and filled up seats until the hall was
standing-room only. To videotape, I positioned myself toward
the front and to the side.|
The members of his brigade wore the usual Army combat
uniforms, or ACUs, with a few exceptions: instead of
camouflaged caps, the members from the 2-108th Cavalry
Squadron wore the traditional black Stetson hat with gold
tassels, some with blue tassels in reference to that
Soldier's infantry background. Many wore silver or gold
combat spurs on their combat boots to honor their cavalry
Finally, a Soldier asked the assembly to rise for the
arrival of the official party. Four Soldiers walked on
The service began with an invocation by the chaplain,
followed by remembrances from his commander and friend, then
his first sergeant, followed again by the chaplain, who was
a close friend.
They talked about what a great guy he was, great sense of
humor, how he was always concerned about his Soldiers.
How he gave his watch to a young lieutenant who kept asking
what time it was, afraid she would miss a meeting. He told
her he had worn that watch without taking it off for a year
during his last deployment here and he left without a
He told her to never take it off and she'll go home fine.
She is a public affairs officer and every night the watch
alarm went off at six p.m. She called and asked him how to
turn it off and he said he wouldn't tell her. Every evening
when the alarm goes off, he explained, she will be reminded
that she needs to write more stories about the Soldiers.
When his seemingly routine mission began that day, the major
asked some of the members of the squadron to fly a flag in
honor of his wedding anniversary. He would send it back to
his wife. They raised his flag in front of headquarters for
him. That afternoon, after the attack, they lowered his flag
to half-staff, in memory of him.
The service continued with the chaplain speaking of the
major's faith and how he knew he would see his friend in
heaven. He choked up at the podium and the squadron command
sergeant major walked across the stage to support him. The
room was deathly silent, save for the sound of more than 500
battle-tested Soldiers sniffling.
The chaplain concluded his remarks with a prayer.
Immediately, the wail of a bagpipe began at the rear of the
hall as a single Soldier played 'Amazing Grace' while
marching down the center aisle to stop at the memorial at
The memorial was a table covered by a black and gold cloth
upon which sat his boots, an inverted rifle standing upright
with his helmet placed on top. His dog tags were hanging
from the top of the rifle. The table had various items
Soldiers placed there, his coffee cup, papers and other
things that only have special meaning for them and their
When the song ended, the room was called to attention. The
first sergeant on stage called for roll call for
Headquarters and Headquarters Troop.
He yelled, "Captain Lloyd!"
A booming voice yelled back, "Here, First Sergeant!"
He yelled, "Major Robinson!"
"Here First Sergeant."
He yelled, "Major Culver!"
There was silence.
He yelled, "Major Ronald Culver!"
He yelled again, "Major Ronald W. Culver, Jr.!"
And a voice said, "He's not here first sergeant, for he's
gone to Fiddler's Green."
"Sergeant Major, strike Major Culver's name from the roll."
After a few moments the Soldiers walked off the stage and
Taps was played.
Soldiers stood and waited their turn to approach the
memorial table, touch the dog tags, leave an item or say a
prayer. Each performed a slow salute, turned and marched to
a line of waiting comrades to express their condolences and
share their grief. Hundreds of Soldiers.
Major Ronald Culver was a member of the Louisiana Army
National Guard Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd
Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, Shreveport, La. The 44
year-old officer left behind a wife and two teenage
We added his name to the list of the fallen read at Memorial
Plaza on Memorial Day.
By USAF MSgt. Darrell Habisch|
407th Air Expeditionary Group
Air Force News
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