CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Soldiers attended a Schofield Barracks memorial service yesterday to honor 25th Infantry Division soldiers killed during the latest deployment to Iraq.
Schofield ceremony honors final sacrifice of 41 soldiers
Fellow soldiers and family gather to recall and reflect on those killed in Iraq
Several hundred soldiers, family members and friends gathered at Schofield Barracks' main chapel yesterday to remember and honor 25th Infantry Division members who died during the latest deployment to Iraq.
Part of the 45-minute service was a visual tribute to the 41 soldiers who died while serving with Hawaii-based units.
Starting with Cpl. Jeremy Shank, who died on Sept. 6, 2006, photos of fallen soldiers were shown as their names were called out.
The last Tropic Lightning soldier to die in Iraq was Sgt. Alexander Gagalac, whose family was among the nearly 50 family members attending the memorial service. Gagalac was killed on Sept. 9 -- little more than a year after the 25th Division's first combat casualty.
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, 25th Division commanding general, told the audience that the day was "to continue the healing process as we pause to remember them."
"We have wept over their loss," he added. "Now is the time to continue to heal, to comfort and vow not to forget."
After the service, Spc. Kevin McMahon, a member of 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry, said, "It was a real good ceremony. It was very appropriate."
During the 15-month Iraqi combat tour, 33 soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team were killed. Three others from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade died, and another five from the 57th Military Police Company, sent to Iraq from South Korea, were killed. The unit was later reassigned to the 8th Sustainment Command, which was formed earlier this year at Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
Nearly 7,000 soldiers deployed to Iraq in August 2006, returning to the islands two months ago.
The division's other major combat unit -- the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, with 3,500 soldiers -- is in the midst of beginning its 15 months in Iraq this month.