Iowa soldiers who’ve died in Iraq and Afghanistan were honored today (Monday) at the statehouse. A new display in the state capitol was unveiled, and the families of the fallen soldiers were each given commemorative Iowa flags in a somber afternoon ceremony.
Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Ron Dardis was on hand to honor Iowa’s “eternal” heroes — the 40 Iowa soldiers who’ve died since September 11th. “These young men represent many communities from every corner of the state. They served with pride in Iraq and Afghanistan as soldiers, sailors, Marines and civilian contractors,” Dardis said. “By committing their tremendous talents, despite the danger of their duties, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are seeing the first glimmer of hope for a democracy and free society in modern history.”
Dardis says there’s no way to take away the pain of losing a loved one during war, but perhaps honoring the memory of these soldiers will help the families heal. “As family members and loved ones, only you truly understand the boundless and selfless sacrifice made by these remarkable Iowans,” Dardis said. “We are humbled to share your company today. We stand in awe of your strength, your grace and your undying devotion to these valiant Iowans.”
Governor Tom Vilsack agreed it was a humbling experience to be in the presence of the families whose loved ones have been killed during duty overseas. “Today we are here in celebration and in mourning,” Vilsack said. The governor presented the families with a red, white and blue state flag that had been flown over the statehouse. “You and those we remember today are the individuals who make this country the greatest nation on Earth,” Vilsack says. “You and those we remember today understood that there is a common good, a higher calling…The country has called. Those we remember today responded with courage and bravery. We should not and we must not forget their sacrifice.”
Photographs of each soldier are now on display at the statehouse. Their names were read as their families came forward to be recognized. The role reads as follows: Major Stuart Anderson of Peosta; Gunnery Sergeant Jeffrey Bohr, Junior of Lansing; Sergeant Casey Byers of Schleswig; Lance Corporal Ben Carman of Jefferson; Keven Dagit of Jefferson (civilian contractor); Specialist Daryl Davis of Spencer; Private Michael Deutsch of Dubuque; Petty Office Second Class Trace Dossett of Wapello; Sergeant Nathan Field of Lehigh; Sergeant Paul Fisher of Cedar Rapids; Private Kurt Frosheiser of Des Moines; Sergeant Seth Garceau of Oelwein; Second Lieutenant Brian Gieneau of Tripoli; Specialist Dahgtah Gooding of Urbandale; Sergeant Robert Jason Gore of Nevada; Staff Sergeant Don Griffith, Junior of Mechanicsville; Sergeant Thomas Houser of Council Bluffs; Sergeant James Kearney III of Emerson; Private First Class David Kirchhoff of Anamosa; Specialist Joshua Knowles of Sheffield; Staff Sergeant Shane Kgefe of Hartley; Sergeant Bradley Kgrthaus of Davenport; Corporal Jarrod Maher of Imogene; Corporal Antoine McKinzie of Des Moines; Frist Sergeant Tobias Meister of Remsen; Sergeant John W. Miller of West Burlington; Private Kenneth Nalley of Hamburg; Specialist David Rice of Sioux City; Corporal Nathan Schubert of Cherokee; Sergeant Daniel Sesker of Ogden; Sergeant Aaron Sissel of Tipton, Private First Class Nick Skinner of Davenport; Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Smith of West Liberty; Corporal Michael Speer of Davenport; Staff Sergeant Eric Steffeney of Waterloo; Private First Class Brandon Sturdy of Urbandale; Sergeant Gregory Tull of Pocahontas; Staff Sergeant Mark Wall of Alden; Private First Class Eric Woods of Urbandale; Specialist Dustin Yancey of Cedar Rapids.