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Special Forces Group commemorates Veterans Day early at JBLM

Spc. Jazmine Williamson, seen in reflection, remembers fellow soldier Sgt. Joshua Strickland after a ceremony observing Veterans Day held by the First Special Forces Group at their memorial wall on Joint Base Lewis McChord, November 10, 2016. The tape covers the name(s) of (a) recently deceased soldier(s) and will be removed during a memorial service.
Spc. Jazmine Williamson, seen in reflection, remembers fellow soldier Sgt. Joshua Strickland after a ceremony observing Veterans Day held by the First Special Forces Group at their memorial wall on Joint Base Lewis McChord, November 10, 2016. The tape covers the name(s) of (a) recently deceased soldier(s) and will be removed during a memorial service. phaley@thenewstribune.com

Jessica Rosenow stood on the shade-dappled grass inside the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) compound that bears her father’s name and pondered what she would tell the public about the importance of Veterans Day.

“The message I’d give the public is you have no idea how much veterans do for this country,” said Rosenow, 22. “It’s important that on at least one day of the year we recognize them.”

Members of the 1st Special Forces Group did just that Thursday, holding their annual Veterans Day ceremony a day early at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Rosenow; her brother, Brett Coleman; and their mother, Barbie Coleman, were special guests.

The 1st Special Forces Group compound is named for unit member Master Sgt. Mark Coleman, who died in Afghanistan in 2010 while trying to protect his comrades from a bomb. He was 40 years old.

The late Coleman was the husband of Barbie Coleman and the father of Rosenow and Brett Coleman, himself a soldier.

They frequently attend Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies at the compound.

“It’s like a family here,” Barbie Coleman said.

First Group commander Col. Guillaume Beaurpere, spoke to assembled guests and about 500 soldiers who stood at parade rest throughout. He noted the sacrifice veterans and their families have made in service to the United States. Some members of the unit currently are deployed in Afghanistan.

“They have not only fought our wars, they have preserved the peace,” Beaurpere said. “It is only fitting that we remember their service here today.”

The commander also said the nation owed veterans a duty once they leave military service, to consider them for jobs and to offer them the support they need to move into civilian life.

Veterans bring a host of skills and experience that make them good employees and neighbors, Beaurpere said.

“We have a duty to support them,” he said. “They are America.”

Beaurpere and 1st Special Forces Group Command Sgt. Maj. Shane Shorter then laid a wreath at the polished black granite memorial wall outside the unit’s headquarters.

The wall is inscribed with the names of the more than 170 1st Special Forces Group soldiers who have died in service to their country, either in combat, training or accidents.

Master Sgt. Coleman’s name is on the wall, and his wife offered her own assessment of what Veterans Day should be about.

“To honor them, all the veterans,” Barbie Coleman said. “To say thank you, and we love you.”

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644, @TNTAdam

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