KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (4/13/2012) -- Spc. Christopher
Honaker and Pfc. Joseph Miracle were two young troopers assigned to
the 173rd Brigade Combat Team when they were killed in action during
a combat operation July 5, 2007 in eastern Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Charlene Navarrette, from Havelock, N.C., a flight medic assigned to Company C, Task Force Lobos, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, holds a flag from the 173rd Brigade Combat Team as she looks down at a memorial stone at Combat Outpost Honaker-Miracle memorial stone that bears her brother's name April 10,
2012. The memorial is dedicated to soldiers who died while serving in the Pech Valley. The outpost is named after Navarrette's brother, Spc. Christopher Honaker, and Pfc. Joseph Miracle who were killed in action July 5, 2007, in Afghanistan while assigned to the 173rd BCT. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Joe Armas
As an ode to the ultimate sacrifice that both soldiers had made, a
small outpost was named in their honor in the region where they had
Honaker's sister, Staff Sgt. Charlene Navarrette, from Havelock,
N.C., had the chance to visit the outpost that is graced with her
brother's name April 10.
“It's kind of surreal to actually be
here,” she said as she walked around the small square-shaped
compound for the first time.
Navarrette, a flight medic
assigned to Company C, Task Force Lobos, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade,
1st Cavalry Division, said making the trip to this place had been
something she had wanted to do for a while now.
years, all I've wanted to do was come and take a knee close to where
Chris took his final knee,” she added.
Nestled in the Pech
Valley with breathtaking scenery, Honaker-Miracle is remotely
located in one of the more volatile regions of the country.
In the center of the compound lies a memorial that is dedicated to
the soldiers who have given their lives while serving in the Pech.
Navarrette said seeing the memorial for the first time
was a moving experience. Controlling her emotions wasn't
easy at first.
“It took all I had to not burst into
tears at first,” she continued. “Being here is very
Since her brother's death, Navarrette has
formed a strong bond with the Soldiers who served alongside
him in Afghanistan.
“They're a great group of guys,”
she said. “Unfortunately, what has bonded us has been
Navarrette said the support she receives
from the troopers of the 173rd is unwavering.
“Charlene is someone I would put down anything for to go and
help...no doubt she would do the same for me or any of our
brothers in arms,” said Sgt. Robert Figueroa, from Torrance,
Calif., a combat medic who deployed with Honaker.
“Our bond is something that could only be forged in the
chaos and fires of battle, as sad as that might sound,”
added Figueroa, who was the last person to be by Honaker's
side at the time of his death.
Figueroa said that
although the brigade endured rough living and fighting
conditions during that deployment, Honaker remained positive
and was also someone he could rely on.
In total, the
173rd lost a total of 39 Soldiers during the brigade's
2007-2008 deployment. Navarrette said she also stays in
contact with the brigade's other Gold Star family members.
“They understand the pain that I've dealt with for all
of this time, so I'm here for all of them as well,” she
said. As Navarrette concluded her visit, she took time to
reflect on her brother's life and the relationship they had.
“Chris and I were very close and we always looked out
for each other,” she said. “It [Chris's death] still hurts
just as much as it did the first day, but I'm very proud of
Chris and the 173rd."
Navarrette's journey to
Honaker-Miracle was a long one, but for herself and her
brother's comrades, it was an important part of the healing
“This to me is a final step of grieving in
most of our lives, said Figueroa. “We all celebrate this
time and are thankful for all the parties involved who made
“I wanted to honor Chris's memory
and try to bring closure to all of this,” said Navarrette.
“This was undoubtedly the best way to do it.”
By Army Staff Sgt. Joe Armas
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