Kentucky Guard Honors Fallen Heroes

JAK

By Staff Sgt. Fredrick P. Varney, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Kentucky Army National Guard

Kentucky Guardsmen honor Private First Class Sammie E. Phillips in North Hardin, as a part of a memorial ceremony called, "We Will Never Forget" on June 5, 2010. Phillips sacrificed his life on September 10, 2007, when his vehicle overturned on a highway near Rustamiyah, Iraq.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 16, 2010)-– Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and Airmen joined the Families of our fallen heroes at cemeteries across the Commonwealth to remember those Kentucky Guardsmen who made the ultimate sacrifice during memorial ceremonies held June 5 and 6.

The We Will Never Forget Ceremony signifies the Kentucky Guard’s pledge to honor its Soldiers who have fallen in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

“This ceremony is about showing the families our commitment to them and to express our appreciation for their Soldier’s service to the Kentucky Guard and to the nation,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas L. Elmore, platoon sergeant, for the 1123rd Sapper Company in Leitchfield, Ky.

Kentucky Guardsmen honor Staff Sgt. Thomas W. Clemons in Caneyville, as apart of a memorial ceremony called, "We Will Never Forget" on June 5, 2010. Clemons incurred a heart attack before heading out on patrol Dec. 11, 2005 in Iraq.

Maj. General Edward W. Tonini, the adjutant general, along with other command staff, visited the grave sites of 18 Kentucky Guardsmen buried in Kentucky, Arlington National Cemetery and North Carolina.

“It’s great to see all of the command staff supporting all of our Soldiers,” said Spc. Alex P. Wallace, combat medic, for the 940th Military Police Company.

Wallace lost his brother Sgt. Daniel W. Wallace Oct. 31, 2008, when his unit came under small-arms fire while conducting a mission to remove improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan’s West Paktika Province.

“My family has become extremely close to my brother’s unit since his passing,” Wallace said. “The 201st Engineer Battalion has reached out to let us know they will never forget my brother.”

Each fallen Soldier was honored with the reading of a commemorative poem at the gravesite. A memorial wreath was placed on each grave on behalf of the Kentucky National Guard Family.

After the conclusion of each ceremony, Tonini and other command staff expressed gratitude to the families.

“It’s so wonderful to be able to gather with family and the Kentucky Guard to pay tribute to my husband Rob and remember his sacrifice for our country,” said Lisa Henderson, wife of the late 1st Lt. Robert L. Henderson.

Henderson paid the ultimate sacrifice on April 17, 2004 near Diwaniyah, Iraq, when his convoy came under small-arms attack.

“I really appreciate everything that the Kentucky Guard has done for me and my family”, she said.

Eighteen Kentucky Guardsmen have died while serving in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Two other Kentucky Guardsmen working for private contracting companies also died overseas.

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