Tuesday, April 22, 2008

4-31 holds memorial breakfast for fallen

Jennie Burrett
2nd BCT Journalist

The 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team held a memorial ceremony breakfast Friday to honor their fallen comrades, at Remington Park Lodge.
The breakfast was dedicated to the memory of the 20 Soldiers and three Iraqi translators that were killed in action while deployed to Iraq, and the two missing in action from 4-31.
“It is good for the families, and it is good for my Soldiers that are here. I wanted the Soldiers to meet as many families that could make it. It’s good for both,” said Lt. Col. Michael Infanti, the battalion commander of the 4-31 “Polar Bears.”
The ceremony started with the families of the fallen and the Soldiers, who were with their loved ones, sitting and eating breakfast together and talking about the lost.
“It is an honor to be here,” said Joseph John Anzack, Sr., the father of Joseph John Anzack, Jr., whose son was killed in Iraq. “I am honored to be here in the presence of the men that served with my son. I enjoy getting the first-hand stories, talking to the people that were there. I am honored to be my son’s dad.”
After that, Maj. Mark Manns, battalion operations officer, and Infanti explained to the families what their loved ones were doing in Iraq during their deployment. Manns explained the area that they were in, and each platoon’s area of operation in the battalion. Infanti explained that 4-31 was in what used to be called the ‘Triangle of Death,’ and no unit wanted to operate in that area.
“It was a good idea to explain to all the families what was going on in Iraq,” said Spec. Samuel Rhodes, a Soldier of Company D, “especially the ones in Company D.”
Capt. Aaron Brooks, who serves as 4-31’s battalion medical officer, made a video of the fallen Soldiers, which was shown and distributed to families of the fallen Soldiers. They were also given a battalion deployment coin and a Polar Bear mug.
“My Soldiers have a fear that people will forget their buddies that have died,” said Infanti. “The memorial was for remembrance. I want my Soldiers to know that their buddies will not be forgotten and that they didn’t die for nothing. They made a difference.”
The ceremony was wrapped up by the unveiling of the memorial, made by Staff Sgt. Aaron Tabbert, a Soldier with Co. B, 4-31. He started the memorial about three weeks ago when they returned from Iraq; Infanti let him know the date of the ceremony so he could finish it in time.
The memorial consists of a nine-foot wooden case with pictures and names of all the fallen and the missing Soldiers, along with a flag in a shadow box. The case is lit on the inside and will be placed inside the 4-31 headquarters.
“The memorial was made by our Soldier for our Soldiers,” said Infanti. “Love of a fellow Soldier was put into the memorial for our fallen.”
The Soldier’s photos are topped with a plaque recalling one of history’s most famous war monuments – at Thermopylae. The inscription, by Simonides, remembers the Spartans who held the pass there against countless Persians under Xerxes. “Go tell the Spartans, passerby, that here, obedient to to their laws, we lie.”

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