Fallen Virginians remembered on Memorial Day

Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, placed a memorial wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Memory at the Virginia War Memorial May 28 to honor the Virginia National Guard during the 2012 Commonwealth Memorial Day Ceremony in Richmond. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard)

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers who died while serving overseas in the Global War on Terror were remembered along with 263 fellow Virginians during the Commonwealth’s Memorial Day Ceremony held May 28 at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond. For the first time, the Memorial Day event incorporated the Wall of Honor ceremony which was previously held at the State Capitol. The Wall of Honor recognizes those Virginians who lost their lives in the Global War on Terror.

“To all the families whose loved ones are pictured on the Wall of Honor, we can never express with appropriate words the sacrifice and pain you have been through for our great nation,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell. “For that, we salute you.”

Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, placed a memorial wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Shrine of Memory to honor the Virginia National Guard. About 20 Members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to assist with traffic control for the event, and approximately 15 Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen volunteered as members of the joint color guard and escorts for family members of fallen military personnel.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 14,000 Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized for federal active duty in support of homeland security missions and the Global War on Terror. During that time, 10 Soldiers have lost their lives to hostile enemy action.

According to a news release from the Virginia War Memorial,  the Wall’s commemorative plaques will be on public display at the Virginia War Memorial through the middle of June. After that, plans are to move the Wall of Honor to the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond for display until a permanent home is constructed at the War Memorial.

The Virginia Wall of Honor was dedicated in 2007 when McDonnell was attorney general to honor Virginians who have died in the Global War on Terrorism and is located in the lobby of the Virginia Attorney General’s office building at 900 E. Main St. All branches of the Armed Services are represented, including the United States Coast Guard, with heroes from the active forces, reserves and National Guard.

The wall has a series of block frame containing 12 individual profiles. Each individual profile is 7 inches by 14 inches, and each photo is 5 inches by 7 inches.

Accompanying the wall is a framed Virginia State flag, flown in Iraq by Cpl. Jonathan Bowling of Martinsville. Bowling served with the United States Marine Corps Reserve, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division. He was killed in an enemy ambush in Al-Anbar Province, Iraq on Jan. 26, 2005, and the flag was donated to the Wall of Honor by his father, Virginia State Police Master Trooper Darrell Bowling of Martinsville.

In addition, a pair of boots, and a rifle with helmet on top, stands in front of a Virginia and American flag, in a traditional military tribute to the fallen.

The following Virginia Guard Soldiers were lost to hostile enemy action since September 11, 2001:

Staff Sgt. Craig W. Cherry, 39, of Winchester, Va., and Sgt. Bobby E. Beasley, 36, of Inwood, W.Va., died on Aug. 7, 2004 in Ghazikel, Afghanistan, when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Both soldiers were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division, Winchester, Va.

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Sgt. Nicholas C. Mason, 20, of King George, Va., and Sgt. David A. Ruhren, 20, of Stafford, Va., died Dec. 21, 2004 in Mosul, Iraq, when their dining facility was attacked. Both were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 276th Engineer Battalion, West Point, Va.

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Col. Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Va., and Sgt. 1st Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Va., died in Baghdad, Iraq, on Jan. 20, 2007 when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed. Kelly was assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters of the Virginia Army National Guard in Blackstone, Va., and Booker was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, Sandston, Va.

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Sgt. David E. Lambert, 39, of Cedar Bluff, Va., died Oct. 26, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command of the Virginia National Guard.

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Sgt. Derek R. Banks, 24, of Newport News, Va., died Nov. 14, 2007 in San Antonio of wounds suffered Oct. 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia National Guard, West Point, Va.

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Staff Sgt. Jeremiah E. McNeal, 23, of Norfolk, Va., died April 6, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia Army National Guard, West Point, Va.

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Sgt. Jesse A. Ault, 28, of Dublin, Va., died April 9, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered in Tunnis, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 429th Brigade Support Battalion, Virginia Army National Guard, Roanoke, Va.