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Memorial Dedicated for 1st AD Soldiers Killed in Iraq

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WIESBADEN ARMY AIRFIELD, Germany, Oct. 7, 2004 – On a day when the 1st Armored Division officially welcomes its Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers home, the division honored its fallen soldiers with a memorial dedication at the parade ground in front of the unit's headquarters here today.

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The 1st Armored Division dedicated a memorial Oct. 7 to its 130 soldiers killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The ceremony was conducted in front of the division's headquarters at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in Germany. Photo by John D. Banusiewicz

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Army Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the division's commander, dedicated a replica of an as-yet-uncompleted granite memorial to 130 division soldiers, including one from Estonia who was serving with the division when he was killed.

Some 1,200 soldiers in desert camouflage uniforms stood in formation as Dempsey acknowledged 11 seriously wounded division soldiers who were present to help honor their fallen comrades. "All of our lives were interrupted," Dempsey said. "Their lives were altered, and we're inspired by their heroism every day."

Dempsey read from a letter written by Sarah Cowherd, widow of 2nd Lt. Leonard M. Cowherd, who was killed by a sniper in Karbala in May and is honored on the memorial: "You were Leonard's family for six months. He talked of you all so much, and he truly loved you all. I'm so thankful that Leonard was with people he loved when he was taken from us."

The general called the lieutenant and his widow heroes, and said heroes live their lives with courage. "And I'm sure you'll agree with me that we know a lot more about courage today than we did a year ago," he said.

Dempsey noted that the soldiers being memorialized had died in service to America, its people and ideals, their families and their fellow soldiers. He said their willingness to serve made them special. "At an age when most young men and women worry about who will advance to the next round of 'American Idol' or which team will make the Super Bowl or who's ahead in the NASCAR standings, they took a stand and decided that they would try to make a difference in the world," he said.

The memorial will serve as a lasting reminder of the fallen soldiers, Dempsey said. But he noted that no honor the division can make to the soldiers' memory can match the honor of their sacrifice. "We really can't honor them," he said. "They did that for themselves. And we shouldn't mourn them, because their lives weren't taken; they were given. We should celebrate their lives, remember their families and recommit ourselves to the hard work remaining to ensure we live up to that example."

A pyramid with 6-foot sides, the memorial rests on a 1-foot-high base. On one pyramid side, the names of the fallen soldiers are etched around an M-1 Abrams tank. Another side of the monument shows a map of Iraq and the crests of the six major units that served as part of Task Force 1st Armored Division there.

The memorial's third side features the 1st Armored Division's triangular patch and an inscription: "In the history of our great nation, there have been times when Soldiers have been called upon to re-earn America's freedom. This is such a time. You now take your place among the heroes of our past who sacrificed so that their fellow Americans would remain free. You are Iron Soldiers."

The monument also notes the inclusive dates the division served in Iraq, from May 2003 to August 2004.

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Army Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey

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1st Armored Division

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