One final salute

Today we held a ceremony for the three Soldiers from our battalion that were killed Aug. 1 by two roadside bombs. The pictures didn’t turn out as well as I liked, but the service itself was very emotional and you could tell these Soldiers left a lasting impact on everyone that knew them.

Soldiers pay final tribute to fallen heroes

FORWARD OPERATING BASE RAMROD, Afghanistan– The sound of “Amazing Grace” twanged in the air as a lone bagpiper solemnly walked up to the three rifles, helmets and combat boots. Below one pair of boots, a picture of a father of three; another of a Soldier engaged to be married; and below the last pair of boots, a picture of a Soldier dedicated to his country.

As the music continued playing, hundreds of mourners paid their final respects to the three fallen Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, who were tragically killed by two roadside bombs Aug. 1.

CPL Jonathan M. Walls, 27, from West Lawn, Penn., PFC Richard K. Jones, 21, of Roxboro, N.C., and PVT Patrick S. Fitzgibbon, 19, of Knoxville, Tenn., were part of a four-day battalion operation in the Kandahar Province, clearing an area of insurgent fighters deep in enemy territory, when they were killed.

“They chose to stand and volunteer when others remained seated,” said LTC Reik Andersen, 1-12 IN commander. “They did things that most people considered too dangerous; but most importantly, they were foot Soldiers – salt of the earth infantrymen.”

Seven Soldiers spoke of their lives; paying tribute to the men they had grown to love.

“Jon [Walls] goal in life was supporting his family in any way they needed, or ever wanted,” said PFC Andrew Lawrence, 1-12 IN. “He was a fun loving guy with an off-the-wall goofy personality that everyone loved. Jon will live on in the eyes of his wife and children.”

For PVT Steven Fitzen, 1-12th IN C-Co First Platoon, he will always remember PVT Fitzgibbon as anything but an “average infantryman.”

“Patrick had dreams of becoming a police officer,” he said. “His dream was to go to Knoxville and become a police officer and to start a family. Fitzgibbon was an excellent Soldier and an even better friend. Words can’t describe how much he will be missed.”

Charlie Company’s First Platoon sergeant, Sergeant First Class Kennith Hicks, remembers PFC Jones as the “ … type of guy that everybody loves and the Soldier that ever leader wishes they could have.”

“He was always willing to go above and beyond his job to make himself better and the squad and platoon better,” he said. “He would do anything for you.”

The 1-12th IN Charlie Company commander, CPT Duke Reim, spoke of the endearing qualities he would always remember his three fallen Soldiers for.

“Love of family, selfless and dedicated service, friendship, courage, patience and a passionate desire to improve are all qualities these warriors displayed on a daily basis,”  Reim said. “They are the very finest of America’s sons and we will always remember them.”

The service ended with a 21-gun salute and taps. Digital pictures of the victims flashed on a screen before the memorial and as music played, hundreds of mourners moved in a long line in front of each set of symbolic remains to pay their last respects.

“Let us never forget the contributions, triumphs and sacrifices of ‘Jon, Fitz and Jonesy,’ and the other Heroic souls of our fallen, who chose to put service to others ahead of themselves,” said Andersen. “Rest in peace fellow Warriors.”


19 Responses to “One final salute”

  1. These men were heroes. May the peace of God be granted to their families and friends.

  2. “When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
    For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

    ……..epitaph for a fallen warrior……..

    With honor, respect, and deepest gratitude for their sacrifice.

  3. Thank you for allowing us to share your grief.

    Mere words cannot express the gratitude we have for the sacrifice made by these young men. Please remember that you are not standing alone in sorrow, try to find comfort in knowing you are surrounded by the support of legions.

    “While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.” ~John Taylor

  4. Rest in Peace, Warriors. Know that you will not be forgotten.

  5. Jenna and Joel Says:

    Thanks for an inspiring comentary on the lives of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I know it must be difficult to share such emotional details but it honors the fallen soldiers and reminds the rest of us of the high price of freedom that is often taken for granted. Stay safe keep up the good work. Our prayers are with you. Jenna and Joel

  6. Tomorrow morning (Saturday August 8th) We will stand proudly as members of the Patriot Guard Riders as we escort you to your final resting place, Pvt Patrick Fitzgibbon. We will be there to comfort you family and to show them and the world how proud we are of the brave young men and women who put themselves in harms way for us. Everytime I see a Knoxville Police office I will think of you. You will never be forgotten… Rest in Peace and reach up to take the hand of those who have gone on before you and are waiting to welcome you to the Kingdom of God.

    • Linda & Bobby: I am so glad that the PGR is doing a mission for this hero. If I lived closer (Norfolk VA) I would be there with my 4′ flags & stand beside you. My son was on the same patrol (he is one of the 6 warriors shown above). The PGR s family no matter where you are.

      • Tomorrow the Patriot Guard Riders will escort our Fallen Hero, Pvt Patrick Fitzgibbon to his final resting place. With Dignity, Respect and Pride we will honor him and remember CPL Jonathan M. Walls and PFC Richard K. Jones in our thoughts and prayers as well as those in this unit who must carry on with grief in their hearts. There is no more humbling experience than to be thanked by the family of a fallen hero, just for being there. I will be making a speciat presentation to Patrick’s father tomorrow. You can see a copy of the digitl scrapbook page in honor of Patrick. God keep you all safe as you stand tall for all of us back home and know that people care. None of you are forgotten. God Bless each of you..

      • JJ, may God bless your son and his fellow soldiers as they deal with the events from that day. Please let him know Richie received a real heroes welcome home. They are not forgotten.

  7. Angela, Bryan, and Daniel Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the pictures and the article. Even though I did not know the fallen men, it made it all the more real to me to see pictures and read about the great sacrifice they made for our country. They will not be forgotten.

  8. Patricia Says:

    Gone but not forgotten. Words cannot express the debt of gratitude that is owed to those who serve & to those that lay down their lives. With deepest sympathy.

  9. To all of the mothers, fathers, wives, girlfriends, relatives, etc please take note of the posting (above) from Linda & Bobby Brooks regarding the Patriot Guard Riders. If you are not familiar with the PGR, please visit the site: Anyone can join, it is free, and anyone can participate on the ‘missions’ which include ‘send offs’, ‘welcome home’, and the dreaded burial missions. One look at the photos & you will certainly agree the PGR is comprised of patriots who love our country; the PGR is a brotherhood of men & women who have served, who honor those currently serving, and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Family members comprise a large portion of the PGR membership. When our heros return home please make sure they are honored for their service. Participating on a mission is something you will NEVER forget ~ talk about patriotic goosebumps!!!

  10. Thank you for having this site to share these stories. I never realized how something we think of as a small token of our appreciation means to these families. Myself and some friends joined Patriot Guard Riders and Rolling Thunder Chapters 4 and 7 from North Carolina to escort Pfc. Richard K. Jones from RDU airport back home to Roxboro, NC. The line above from JJ is so true..”talk about patriotic goosebumps”. As we approached the city limits, the highway was closed to all traffic and lined with Police, Fire, EMS, Sheriff, and other departments along with hundreds of people saluting, waving flags and shedding tears. It was overwhelming to ride through this gauntlet of well wishers. Needless to say, I have now become a member of both groups. God bless our troops and their families.

  11. All gave some, some gave all, but PFC Richie Jones gave all & answered the call.

    Welcome Home Richie!! We love you & miss you so much. Yesterday we welcomed you home with open arms as so many lined the streets, so proud of you & your sacrifice. & now tomorrow we will lay you to peace. We couldn’t have asked for a better friend & America couldn’t have asked for a better soldier!! We love you!

    And thank you to the other two, who gave their all along side of Richie. Our thoughts & prayers go out to their families as well. And to those who are fighting for us still overseas & state side. We are with you all!!

  12. Alicia Hilton Says:

    Thank you for these pics. It is so nice to know there are services held in the field. Less we forget the bond between soldiers. God Bless each and every American soldier.

  13. No matter what problems our country may have, no matter what knuckle-headed things our politicians may say or do, and no matter what bad news you read in the newspaper or see on TV, we all can rest assured that the vast majority of our citizens are patriots to the bone and support those who put their life on the line to protect us. Reading these posts brings tears to my eyes, and that is a hard thing to do for a retired Navy Chief. We are all proud of our sons & daughters who put service to their country 1st. There are times that I wonder if our country deserves these warriors but reading these posts has brought the faith back. Please remember this……

    “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm”

    May God Bless Them All !!!

  14. Patty Grady Says:

    As I stood along the highway Saturday as the procession passed by bringing Pfc Richie Jones home I had feelings of such sorrow, and appreciation, for this young man and his family. I have a son that has served there and Iraq on 3 different occasions…as well as a daughter-in-law, and a son-in-law and I am so grateful that mine all came home safely. May Richie and all those that have lost their lives rest with the Angels..and their families find peace in the arms of God.

  15. As a Patriot guard Rider and , soldiers angel, and Americas 9/11 rider, i have seen so much. I believe America has not forgotten , and i believe a new awakeing of respect, honor and compassion to those that must leave their families behind to answer the call of duty! God bless them and their families and when the bugle calls and Jesus calls a new soldier home , we have lost another American Hero. I too experience the pain and tears even though we don’t know the soldiers personally, but i trully recognize the ole cliche of FREEDOM IS NOT FREE! I now put many , way to many faces to that saying and it breaks my heart and when i stand a flag line you best believe i have the upmost RESPECT for those soldiers putting their lives on the line every day over there to protect us here at home and my and your FREEDOM! I am sorry for the loss of theese wonderful young soldiers , THEY WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN! Thankyou for shareing the touching pictures. May God watchover their commrades and families! Thankyou

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