Thirty-seven soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice to help make today's election in Iraq possible are being remembered at Fort Stewart. Thirty-seven new trees line Warriors Walk in their honor. This is the second-largest group of soldiers to be memorialized there.
They also honoring some high-ranking soldiers. Col. William Wood was the highest-ranking soldier killed in Iraq. Four captains and a lieutenant colonel were also remembered. But each and every soldier honored today is being called a hero.
"He was a good guy who would always do what he was asked," said Rod Hill of his brother, 39-year-old Captain Raymond Hill. "Never said no."
On a cold, gray winter morning, Hill and his family huddled with the families and friends of 36 other fallen soldiers to remember their loved ones. Thirty-seven young Eastern Red Bud trees and 37 granite markers mark their sacrifices.
The trees are living reminders that each soldier will not be forgotten. Capt. Hill's family even hung pictures on his tree, including photos with the Iraqi children. He was delivering school supplies when he died.
"It was very hard to see, that even though he was doing what we considered to be the good part of the war that something like that happened," said Rod Hill.
Families aren't the only ones who grieve. Many of the honor guard also served with these soldiers. Master Sgt. Cheryl Greene says it's an honor to pay her respects to Master Sgt. Thomas Wallsmith. "I came in early from Iraq and when they asked me to do it, I had no problems doing it, because he was a friend and I wanted to do it," Greene said.
The soldiers range in age from 19 to 51 and have one to 21 years of service behind them. One thing they all share: they're all heroes. Garrison commander Col. John Kidd told us, "The soldiers we remember here today are the best America has to offer. They are all volunteers, participating in that most American tradition: selfless service and sacrifice for others."
A total of 264 trees now make up Warriors Walk. They'll hold their next ceremony to honor fallen soldiers in February.