Facing death in combat is something all soldiers must be prepared to deal with in their career, but it is something else to lose a good soldier while at home.
The 36th Engineer Brigade held a memorial ceremony April 18 for Spc. Joseph Edward McDonald, a combat engineer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 36th Engineer Brigade, who died April 15 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
“When we, as soldiers, deploy to combat, we understand and accept the fact that we may pay the ultimate price in defense of our Constitution and our way of life,” said Capt. Peter White, company commander. “But when death strikes from out of nowhere against a responsible soldier, thousands of miles away from combat, it leaves us asking, ‘Why here, why now?’”
White said there is not one single answer to that question and soldiers, friends and family need to search out an answer on their own.
“As we search for the answer, I challenge the soldiers in this company to come together and grieve, and let this (tragedy) recommit us to treasure the time we have together, to get to know each other better, and to look out for each other better,” he said.
White then focused on McDonald, sharing his thoughts on the fallen warrior.
“(He was) a proud, confident, rugged soldier, full of life and fun, but always on task, always eager to help our company succeed,” White said. “He never failed to execute any task that I had for him.”
Other members of the unit spoke about McDonald, as well, including Sgt. Maurice Reid, the company’s training room noncommissioned officer and McDonald’s direct supervisor.
“My memories of him will be of laughter and of joy, courage, strength, good morals and honesty,” he said.
Reid spoke directly to McDonald’s family, passing on his love and support to them.
“Joseph would want me to mention how much he loved and adored his wife, Ashley,” Reid said. “There is no doubt in my heart that if he were here today, he would want me to tell you that he loves you, Ashley. If it weren’t for your patience with me, and for your love and support, he would not have made it as far as he did.”
After addressing the McDonald family, Reid turned his attention to the soldiers and civilians who filled the room.
“Now I say to all in attendance and those here in spirit: If only there were words that could sooth the pain from which your sorrows brew, I would, with precise annunciation, speak those words to you now,” said Reid.