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Citizen-Soldiers Honor Fallen Firefighters

American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 2, 2007 – Warriors from 218th Enhanced Separate Brigade from the South Carolina National Guard assigned to Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix in Afghanistan paid tribute over the weekend to the nine firefighters who died in a June 18 warehouse fire in Charleston, S.C.

As citizen-soldiers, many of the deployed members of the 218th, with headquarters in Newberry, S.C., worked alongside the fallen firefighters on a full-time basis in Charleston.

“It is important that we recognize our fallen comrades who died serving their community,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Livingston, commander of CJTF Phoenix. “We all need to honor those who sacrifice every day, not only in our thoughts and prayers, but by living our daily lives mindful of what we all owe for our freedom.”

Flags were flown over Camp Phoenix in honor of the firefighters, and plaques will be presented to the Charleston City and Pine Ridge Fire Departments.

“We are all part of a brotherhood as firefighters; we need to honor them in any way we can, and it doesn’t matter where you are,” said Sgt. Thomas J. Junkin, who served with two of the men who died. “It saddens me to know that they are gone, but they were courageous.”

“It is ironic we are here in Afghanistan serving after the 9/11 attacks, with the largest loss of firefighters, emergency medical service and police,” said Capt. Brian E. Jezewski, who serves as an engineer with the Beaufort Fire Department. “If I were home, I would be going to their memorials, I am just glad that we could honor them. All of us are public servants; it doesn’t matter if we are serving our country, state or our community.”

(From a Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix news release.)

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