Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dukes Remember Fallen Four

Soldiers salute their fallen comrades one last time at the end of a memorial service on Aug. 7, honoring four soldiers who were killed when their vehicle was struck by an IED
U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. David Hopkins

By Staff Sgt. David Hopkins
1st Infantry Division public affairs.

By Staff Sgt. David Hopkins1st Infantry Division public affairs BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — Amongst the bolder-ridden mountain slopes of the Kunar province, soldiers gathered at a forward operating base to pay their final respects to four fallen comrades on Thursday.

“Second Lt. Michael Girdano, platoon leader, Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion, Spc. William Mulvihill, wheeled vehicle mechanic, Headquarter and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, Pfc. David Badie, combat engineer, Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion, and Pvt. Jair Garcia, squad automatic gunner, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, died when the vehicle they were in struck an IED in the Kunar province in northeastern Afghanistan on Aug. 1.

"2nd Lt. Girdano, Spc. Mulvihill, Pfc. Badie and Pvt. Garcia’s actions are an inspiration to us all and their names will forever be etched in the history of the Big Red One,” Capt. Brian Corbin, Alpha Company’s commander, said.

One by one, friends and leaders stood before the crowd and spoke of the fallen soldiers’ life achievements within the Army and in their personal lives. The reoccurring theme was that of dedication and sacrifice.

Everyone has to make decisions in life and according to Corbin, the soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division who died Aug. 1 made the decision to sacrifice in order to protect others.

“There comes a time in our lives when we transition from childhood to adulthood, and once we make that transition we are faced with two paths. One path is a path in which freedom and security are provided by the blood, sweat and tears of others. The second is a world in which we make a stand and say: ‘Follow me, for I will protect you from those who mean you harm.’ It takes a special person to choose the second path and most shy away. Lieutenant Girdano, Spc. Mulvihill, Pfc. Badie and Pvt. Garcia not only accepted a challenge, but they embraced it,” Juranek, said. “These men, without hesitation, completed the most dangerous of missions. Their daily endeavors to save lives provided the Blue Spaders with freedom of movement through the most volatile province of Afghanistan.”

According to Corbin, not many people knew Girdano on a personal level because he arrived at the unit on a Thursday and deployed with them on the following Monday, but he said he was a good leader and a good man who was always willing to listen and accept advice from others.

Mulvihill is remembered by a friend as being a dedicated soldier who was ready for his mission and who was proud to follow his family tradition in the military.

“I asked him how he felt about going to Afghanistan, and he said to me that even though he was a little nervous that he was ready and willing to go do his job wherever he was needed. He also explained to me that his siblings were in the military and he was proud to be doing what he was doing.” Sgt. Holly Princevalle said.

Baddie was known by his friends as a caring person who touched the lives of those around him.

“He showed genuine care and concern for those around him,” Henderson said. “You will be missed. We will cherish the friendship. You have put a special mark in our hearts. All those who knew him will never forget him. The platoon will never be the same without him.”

Garcia will be missed by his fellow solders and friends, but he also left behind family that was near and dear to him. “He was a very caring and loving son, father and husband,” said Pfc. Hessbroo.

“He was the kind of person who knew how to brighten your bad day. If you knew Jair Garcia like his close friends did you knew his pride and joy was his 9-year-old son. Garcia instilled in his friends that when things go wrong you shouldn’t go wrong with them. He was an older guy who had a lot of wisdom about things and became a role model for many of us. Jair Garcia is now in a place where the grass is greener and at rest. He will be missed by many and missed by all.”

At the close of the service small groups of soldiers went to where the boots, weapons and identification tags of the fallen soldiers were displayed and they said their good-byes in their own, quiet way.

Even after the loss of their four comrades the soldiers of Duke Brigade are ready to finish what they’ve started.

“To the men of 1st platoon Alpha company, Special Troops Battalion: In my 11 years of service I’ve never met a braver group of men. You, like our fallen brothers, are warriors, guardians of freedom. Let’s remember these brave men by carrying on the work they have begun,” Corbin said. “Let us complete the mission.”

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