Families, Soldiers Pay Tribute at Warriors Walk

Loved ones of Sgt. Samuel Kelsey accept the marker drape from his tree in Warriors Walk.
Loved ones of Sgt. Samuel Kelsey accept the marker drape from his tree in Warriors Walk.

FORT STEWART, GA--Soldiers and relatives gathered in bad weather on Thursday to remember Third Infantry troops killed in Iraq. They honored eight soldiers who gave their lives for our country.

As loved ones made their way through Warriors Walk, Lisa Lewis paused at the sight of her son's memorial.

"Sgt. Mason Lewis was a soldier who knew the meaning of loyalty and duty," Col. Todd Buchs, Garrison Commander, said aloud in the ceremony.

"He loved what he did. He was dedicated to the service. He never took his dog tags off. They've only been off after he passed," relayed Mrs. Lewis.

As eight families sat in mourning, one more stood at attention. Sgt. Tonisha Woodell served with Lewis and uncovered his marker. She came home wounded one week before he was killed.

"This is one of my soldiers," explained Sgt. Tonisha Woodell. "And I could not think of a bigger way to honor him."

While Thursday marked the first visit to Warriors Walk for some families, there are those who attend month after month for these.

Reverend Murl Gwynn helps leads a motorcycle escort for the families. He joined the Patriot Guard riders after the death of his son in law Darren Hubbell.

"When you come here, there is a sense of commradery, closeness, almost something sacred," said Gwynn, state chaplain for the Guard.

On a day weather could have kept the faint hearted away, stood watch on their heroes' legacy.

"The love we feel for them will not fade into the night nor fade with time," Buchs stated in his address.

These eight soldiers will joins the 273 others fallen heroes who gave their all protecting our freedoms.

Reported by Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com