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Military

By Nick Tovo

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Watchdogs Honor Their Own
(June 15, 2010)

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SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HAWAII (June 11, 2010) - Less than 24 hours after the completion of Watchdog Memorial Grove, Soldiers, family members, and loved ones gathered to pay tribute to their fallen comrades who left a lasting impact on their lives.
Col. Bryon A. Freeman, commander of the 8th Military Police Brigade, speaks to the audience about the sacrifices the fallen Soldiers gave while deployed to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2008 to October 2009, during the memorial ceremony on Schofield Barracks on June 4, 2010. Photo by: Sgt. 1st Class David R. Wheeler
Col. Bryon A. Freeman, commander of the 8th Military Police Brigade, speaks to the audience about the sacrifices the fallen Soldiers gave while deployed to Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2008 to October 2009, during the memorial ceremony on Schofield Barracks on June 4, 2010. Photo by: Sgt. 1st Class David R. Wheeler
Flowers and small trees surround a circular stone terrace, and a granite block sits in the middle, carved with the names of the fallen. At the top of the memorial, is the Fallen Soldiers Battle Cross - a bronzed helmet resting on top of a bronzed bayoneted rifle, plunging into the ground.

Watchdog Memorial Grove is a monument nearly a year in the making. Leaders and Soldiers of the 8th Military Police Brigade conceptualized and designed the monument to honor the memories of their fellow brothers in arms.
A soldier from the 8th Military Police Brigade salutes the memorial after placing a fallen Soldier's dog tags on the Soldiers' Cross, represented by a rifle, boots, and helmet, as other soldiers look on during the 8th Military Police memorial on Schofield Barracks on June 4, 2010. Photo by: Sgt. 1st Class David R. Wheeler
A soldier from the 8th Military Police Brigade salutes the memorial after placing a fallen Soldier's dog tags on the Soldiers' Cross, represented by a rifle, boots, and helmet, as other soldiers look on during the 8th Military Police memorial on Schofield Barracks on June 4, 2010. Photo by: Sgt. 1st Class David R. Wheeler
 As a large crowd gathered in front of the 8th MP's Headquarters building, it was evident that this was more than just a dedication to a new monument.

“Sergeant Raul Moncada... Sergeant Raul A. Moncada!”

The crowd listened quietly as a First Sergeant shouted what troops call the last roll. On this day it was eleven names, followed by eleven silences. After each one, a soldier marched forward and saluted before hanging a dog tag from the battle cross, showing honor and respect for the fallen.

Each name called during the last roll, was a name of a Soldier who lost his life during a 2009 deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“These soldiers were some of the finest people in this country,” 8th MP commander Col. Byron Freeman told the hushed gathering.

As a veteran of several deployments himself, Freeman knows that MP's are some of the most

called upon soldiers in the Army.
Against a backdrop of billowing flags he tried to reassure those at the memorial that the deaths of these eleven soldiers were not in vain.

"Their lives continue to bear fruit in us by motivating us to serve as they chose to serve,” Freeman said, before reminding the crowd that these troops were more than just Military Policeman. “I choose to remember and celebrate them as who they were as men, as brothers, as husbands and fathers.”

Sgt. Clark C. Bartholomew, 8th Military Police Brigade, places the dog tags of his fallen friend and Soldier Raul Moncada, 563rd Military Police Company, on the Soldiers' Cross, represented by a rifle, boots, and helmet, at the 8th MP Brigade memorial on Schofield Barracks on June 4, 2010. Photo by: Cpl. Frank Bland
Sgt. Clark C. Bartholomew, 8th Military Police Brigade, places the dog tags of his fallen friend and Soldier Raul Moncada, 563rd Military Police Company, on the Soldiers' Cross, represented by a rifle, boots, and helmet, at the 8th MP Brigade memorial on Schofield Barracks on June 4, 2010. Photo by: Cpl. Frank Bland
 Sergeant Raul Moncada was among the 8th MP Brigade's fallen, killed in Baghdad by an improvised explosive device. One of his best friends, Sgt. Clark Bartholomew, of the 8th MP Brigade, paid homage to Moncada at the memorial.

“He was my best friend, the ultimate NCO and the ultimate soldier” said Bartholomew. “He was a family man and anytime you would mention his daughter his face would just break into a big smile. So it was really tragic when he was killed”.

The 8th Brigade MP's 2009 deployment to Iraq was a heroic one. These soldiers were responsible for training Iraqi police forces and played a key role in providing security for the newly democratic country's first national election.

The Army awarded the brigade the prestigious Meritorious Unit Citation for their outstanding work in Iraq. However, as the ceremony at Schofield barracks showed, success in war sometimes comes with a heavy price. For the Watchdogs, that cost was the lives of eleven soldiers.

Watchdog Memorial Grove will remain, eleven names engraved in granite, the Fallen Soldiers Battle Cross
standing watch, a solemn tribute to these Military Policemen who sacrificed their lives in the name of America.
By Nick Tovo
Defense Media Activity – Hawaii News Bureau
Copyright 2010

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