Green Berets honor fallen comrades

They recall WWII origins, recognize last 4 soldiers to die in Afghanistan during ceremony in a series of events at JBLM

OlympianDecember 10, 2013 

Master Sgt. Tad Devitt of the 1st Special Forces Group spoke Monday in a ceremony to honor the last four soldiers the unit lost in Afghanistan. The names of the Green Berets – Staff Sgt. Jeremie Border, Sgt. 1st Class James Grissom, Staff Sgt. Michael Simpson and Sgt. Joshua Strickland – were added to a wall at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

ADAM ASHTON/STAFF WRITER

 

The Green Berets at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Monday looked back to their World War II origins as they recognized their last four soldiers to die while serving in Afghanistan.

Their commander, Col. Robert McDowell of the 1st Special Forces Group, said they represented “what is good and what is right in our nation.”

They were Staff Sgt. Jeremie Border, killed Sept. 1, 2012; Sgt. 1st Class James Grissom, killed March 21; Staff Sgt. Michael Simpson, killed May 1; and Sgt. Joshua Strickland, killed Sept. 21.

“They are men who will remain legends because they went the distance” to protect their fellow soldiers and serve their country, McDowell said.

The ceremony took place in the midst of a series of events recognizing the precursor to today’s Army Special Forces – a joint U.S. and Canadian outfit called the 1st Special Services Force that disbanded after successful fighting on the European front on Dec. 5, 1944, in Menton, France.

To mark the day, a team of Canadian paratroopers traveled to Lewis-McChord for this year’s Menton Day activities. They plan to do parachuting and shooting exercises this week with their American counterparts.

Also Monday, the 1st Group set aside a brick in the wall surrounding its memorial to recognize Rico, one of its military working dogs that died in Afghanistan this year from unknown causes.

The group dedicated three buildings in its compound to four soldiers who died in 2009 and 2010 in Afghanistan and the Philippines: Master Sgt. Mark Coleman, Staff Sgt. Rusty Christian, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Shaw and Staff Sgt. Jack Martin III.

Shaw and Martin were killed in the Philippines, where the 1st Group maintains a presence. Coleman and Christian died in Afghanistan.

The memorial ceremony wove together the sacrifices of both the 1st Group and the Canadian battalion in the most recent wars when an Army master sergeant read the names of troops the two units have lost since 2011.

Nineteen names came from the Canadian battalion. Thirteen names were read from the 1st Group, not counting the eight recognized on the memorial and with the building dedications.

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