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Patriotic Article
Military

By Sr. Airman Tong Duong

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War Memorial: The Writing Is On The Wall
(May 27, 2011)

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JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (5/18/2011) -- The writing on the walls was clear for all to see...Rest in peace to the fallen.

Messages were left by service members who had lost friends, as a way to commemorate their memory. Those who were wounded left their mark to thank medical staff members. Dotted throughout the room also were comments from well-wishers.
May 14, 2011 - Service members left their marks on the walls of the contingency airlift staging facility. Since the troop surge in 2007, wounded warriors and top military officials have been writing messages as a way to commemorate their fallen comrades. Words of thanks were also left for the JBB hospital staff.
May 14, 2011 - Service members left their marks on the walls of the contingency airlift staging facility. Since the troop surge in 2007, wounded warriors and top military officials have been writing messages as a way to commemorate their fallen comrades. Words of thanks were also left for the JBB hospital staff.
 With U.S. forces committed to its transition out of Iraq by year's end, a small group effort is underway to preserve historical artifacts from JBB. This includes the contingency aeromedical staging facility "memorial" walls.

According to Dr. Charles Dusch, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing historian, it was around the time of the troop surge in Iraq (2007) that the memorial wall was created. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and allied nation soldiers who were waiting to be transported to higher level of care began writing on the walls. Many of them left memorials and tributes to comrades who've
fallen and over time the numbers grew.
"You start to see messages from very important people like Air Force Secretary Michael Donnelly, Army Generals David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno, football coaches and cheerleaders traveling with the United Service Organization," the historian, who is deployed from the Air Force Academy, said.

Dusch, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, noted that other historians like Dan Sherman said memorials do things for us collectively as a people and for the veterans.

"It helps transform emotions from grief to honor and a sense of accomplishment," he quoted.

Dusch, a native of Warwood, W.Va., said there are not many memorials in the world like the CASF walls. Traditionally a war memorial is put up by someone after the fact, to remember whomever.

"The CASF walls was created by people who actually fought, were wounded and they had the opportunity to speak and honor one another," he said. "It's become a memorial to Operation Iraqi Freedom and it could be argued quite possible to the surge."

The messages are individual expressions. Some are very bold, while others are timid and more reserved. Several are written smaller and more difficult to read, while a couple are larger artwork that stands out.

"It reflects the expression that those individuals at that moment in history ... what was in their hearts and foremost in their minds at that time, and we have that captured here at the Air Force Theater Hospital at JBB," Dusch said.

Article and photo by Sr. Airman Tong Duong
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing
Copyright 2011

Provided through DVIDS

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