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‘We will never forget their courage and their sacrifice’

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Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 4:30 am

Four new names were added Friday to the 13th Sustainment Command’s memorial honoring those who lost their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — Brig. Gen. Terence J. Hildner, Capt. Aaron D. Istre, Staff Sgt. Robert A. Massarelli and Sgt. Michael J. Strachota.

There are now 110 names ranging in rank from private to brigadier general on the granite panels.

“It’s our duty to honor them and we will never forget their courage and their sacrifice,” said retired Lt. Col. Bob Crouch, president of the 13th COSCOM Association, the unit’s alumni organization that funded the memorial.

Veterans, soldiers and family members of the fallen came out Friday for the rededication ceremony, held annually during the 48-year-old command’s birthday week.

“While we pay respect to the fallen today, I hope and pray these are the last names added to the memorial,” Crouch said. “I pray for the government to make wise decisions of the future employment of our sons and daughters in defense of this nation.”

Soldiers kicked off the celebration week Sept. 23 with an esprit de corps run. On Thursday, soldiers participated in the Brig. Gen. Terry Hildner Memorial Golf Tournament and a dinner, both hosted by the COSCOM Association.

Crouch spent nine years combined in the command and said it’s great to get back out with soldiers.

“We want to get them involved and understand the history and traditions of the unit,” he said. “The only reason we exist as an association is to support the soldiers.”

The 13th’s commander Brig. Gen. Clark LeMasters described the rededication ceremony as bittersweet.

“It’s bitter because of the loss,” he said. “The sweetness comes from the fact that they are not forgotten.”

Since the wars began a dozen years ago, the 13th Sustainment Command has continually contributed soldiers to support and sustain the fight. A finance company left for Afghanistan just last week.

The memorial, LeMasters said, serves as a battle cry to the enemy the lives of the lost will always be honored and “that we will never accept defeat and never quit.”

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