The 1st Cavalry Division honored its most recent losses in Afghanistan by adding the names of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice to the division’s Global War on Terrorism memorial at Cooper Field on Friday.
Gold Star family members, soldiers and community leaders attended the memorial rededication ceremony, honoring nine soldiers who were assigned or attached to the division while deployed when they were killed in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III, the division’s commanding general, made opening remarks before unveiling the addition of the names to one of the memorial panels.
“Today in this solemn observance, on this sacred ground, we honor nine great men and remember thousands of other men and women that gave their last full measure of devotion to our country,” Thomson said
Thomson also thanked the Gold Star families for allowing their loved ones to serve the nation.
“We cannot fathom the sorrow you hold; our hearts weep with you,” Thomson said. “We will always stand beside you, you are forever part of the 1st Cav.”
The names of the soldiers added to the memorial were:
1st Lt. Jason Togi from Pago Pago, American Samoa, was an engineer platoon leader assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and was killed when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with a roadside bomb in Zabul Province on Aug. 26, 2013.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin G. Prange of Hickman, Nebraska, and Pfc. Keith M. Williams of Visalia, California, were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, but were attached to the 1st Cavalry Division when they died of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province on July 24, 2014.
Sgt. 1st Class Ramon S. Morris of New York, New York, and Spc. Wyatt J. Martin of Mesa, Arizona, were assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when they were killed during a Taliban ambush that targeted their military vehicle with an improvised explosive device in Parwan Province on Dec. 12, 2014.
Sgt. Douglas J. Riney from Fairview, Illinois, was assigned to the Support Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, when he died of wounds received after encountering hostile enemy gunfire in Kabul Province on Oct. 19, 2016.
Staff Sgt. John W. Perry of Stockton, California, and Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt of Tamaroa, Illinois, were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, when they died from injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Bagram Province on Nov. 12, 2016.
Sgt. 1st Class Allan E. Brown from Takoma Park, Maryland, was also assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, who died Dec. 6, 2016 in Bethesda, Maryland, from wounds received from the Nov. 12, 2016 attack that took the lives of Perry and Iubelt.
Riney’s widow, Kylie Riney, and mother Pam Boland, attended the ceremony and said having Riney’s name added to the memorial was important.
“It means a lot just to know that he won’t be forgotten, that he will always be a hero to everybody,” Boland said. “He was amazing, he volunteered to help everybody.”
Boland said Douglas would put his mind to something and he was going to be the best at it.
Kylie Riney said Douglas was devoted to the Army as if the institution was his own family and put his soldiers needs above his own. Douglas was on his third deployment when he was killed along with a civilian contractor after encountering hostile enemy gunfire. Another U.S. service member was inured along with two civilians in the attack.
“He was part of the 1st Cavalry honor guard and he took pride in it, and around the clock was working and the only reason why he left (the honor guard) was to join 3rd Cavalry to deploy,” Kylie Riney said. “Our family got put on the backburner a lot of times; the soldiers came first, his job came first.”
“The way I look at it is he went over there with all of his brothers and left with a new brother that he just met — he didn’t go alone, and he will never be alone,” Kylie Riney said.
Julianne Perry, the widow of Staff Sgt. John Perry, was also present at the ceremony honoring her husband.
“He was a really great leader, a great dad and he loved doing his job,” Julianne Perry said.
Julianne Perry said she thought it was amazing what Fort Hood has been doing to honor and remember the fallen.
“They are never forgotten, their names are always over Fort Hood and I love that I am just a couple of miles from Fort Hood; so whenever there is an event, rededication, a memorial or ceremony honoring my husband I am able to be present,” she said.
Accompanying Julianne Perry to the ceremony were her and her late husband’s children, 6-year-old daughter Lena and 5-year-old son Gavin.
“I’m really thankful that we have children, because I can see bits and pieces of my husband through my children,” Julianne Perry said. “(Douglas Riney) was a very caring, giving man and he died a hero, and I want people to remember that he died a hero.”
The memorial was dedicated on Apr. 4, 2006, and has more than 800 names of fallen 1st Cavalry Division soldiers who died during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. It was last updated and rededicated in 2010.