13th SC(E) honors their fallen warriors on Memorial Day

13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Soldiers with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) stand in a tight formation facing an assembly of fellow service members. As the Iraqi sun sets on the evening, each Soldier’s silhouette is cast on the individual to his or her left, a vivid simile of the memories of their fallen comrades.

“We are here to respect the memory of those who were committed to being part of something larger than themselves by joining the military, whether for a short term of duty or a decade-long career in uniform,” said Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Mansfield, Ohio, native.

For some Soldiers who have served under the 13th SC(E) on numerous deployments, the names of the 191 fallen warriors read aloud during a ceremony May 31 at the command headquarters here, are thought of more than once.

“Today, I think of people who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Sgt. Kelvin A. Fitzpatrick, a cargo specialist with the 159th Seaport Operations Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 13th SC(E) and a Fort Bragg, N.C. native. “I sit back and reflect on that my mom and father were both in the military,” Fitzpatrick said, “and I’m fortunate to have them.”

Fitzpatrick, whose parents both dedicated 20 or more years to the Army, is now serving on his fourth tour and recognizes names on the record of fallen Soldiers as individuals he has deployed with under the ESC in Iraq.

Fitzpatrick recalled one tragic incident — his jaw line clenched and rigid.

“She didn’t need the military, but she enlisted to serve her country,” Fitzpatrick said, of Sgt. Tina S. Time, who died at age 22 when her truck collided with another military vehicle during a sandstorm near Camp Cedar, Iraq. “She was well respected, especially by the younger female enlisted (Soldiers).”

An earth-trembling 21-gun salute followed the general’s opening remarks, the playing of taps and the lowering of the American flag from half-staff, by members of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. The flag was then relinquished to the 13th SC(E) and will be on display at the “Sustainer Warrior Memorial” at JBB. It is intended that the flag be relocated to Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Va., for permanent display at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to 13th SC(E) leaders.

Command Sgt. Maj. Mark D. Joseph, command sergeant major of the 13th SC(E) and a Lake Charles, La., native., said while it is possible that some Americans may view Memorial Day as the start of summer, the end of the school year, or a four-day weekend, they should not forget the reason for this day.

“The holiday is to remember those who have fought in all major wars and conflicts, giving their lives,” Joseph said. “That’s why we have a reason to celebrate.”

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Members of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club (left) bow their heads in prayer beside a firing squad formation May 31 during a Memorial Day ceremony outside the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) headquarters at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The Soldiers played an important role in rendering honors to the 191 fallen warriors who served under sustainment commands since the beginning of the Global War on Terror.

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Brigadier General Paul L. Wentz (standing at podium), commanding general of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Mansfield, Ohio, native, addresses Soldiers with the 13th SC(E) at a Memorial Day ceremony May 31 outside the command headquarters at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. “We are here to respect the memory of those who were committed to being part of something larger than themelves by joining the military, whether for a short term of duty or a decade-long career in uniform,” Wentz said. Taps was played during the ceremony, and the names of 191 Soldiers who died while serving under sustainment commands out of JBB were read aloud as well.

 

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Sgt. 1st Class Mark E. Coovert (from left), battle noncommissioned officer with the operations branch of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Barboursville, W.V., native; 1st Sgt. Charlie McKenzie, first sergeant with the 159th Seaport Operations Company,13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 13th SC(E) and an Atlanta native; Sgt. 1st Class Frederick Thompson, a platoon sergeant with the 159th SOC and a Youngstown, Ohio, native; and Staff Sgt. Teah Clay, a section sergeant with the 159th SOC and a New York City native, all members members of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, relinquish the American flag to the 13th SC(E) May 31 during a ceremony at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The flag will be on display at the “Sustainer Warrior Memorial” until it is relocated to the Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Va., for permanent display at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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Sgt. 1st Class Mark E. Coovert (from left), battle noncommissioned officer with the operations branch of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Barboursville, W.V., native, receives the American flag May 31 from Sgt. 1st Class Frederick Thompson, a platoon sergeant with the 159th Seaport Operations Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 13th SC(E), and a Youngstown, Ohio, native during a Memorial Day ceremony at the command headquarters at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The flag will be on display at the “Sustainer Warrior Memorial” and be relocated to the Combined Arms Support Command, Fort Lee, Va., for permanent display at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.