Memorial service planned in Winchester for Va. Guard Soldiers killed in action 10 years ago

Staff Sgt. Craig Cherry and Sgt. Bobby Beasley

Staff Sgt. Craig Cherry and Sgt. Bobby Beasley

SANDSTON, Va. – A memorial ceremony to commemorate the loss and honor the memory of Staff Sgt. Craig Cherry and Sgt. Bobby Beasley of the Virginia National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will be held at 8 p.m. Aug. 1, 2014, at the Winchester, Va., readiness center that was named in their honor.

Beasley and Cherry, both infantrymen assigned to 3rd Battalion’s Headquarters Company, were killed when an improvised explosive device destroyed their vehicle Aug. 7, 2004, during a patrol near Ghazikel in eastern Afghanistan.

Current and former members of 3rd Battalion will be on hand for the ceremony that is scheduled to include a wreath laying, candle lighting and remarks from Soldiers who served with both Cherry and Beasley.

Cherry, a native of Winchester, was 39 at the time of his death and was married with three children. He served in the U.S. Army from 1983-1987, then served in the Michigan National Guard from 1987-1998 before transferring to the Virginia Guard in late 1998.

Beasley, a native of Inwood, West Virginia, was 36 at the time of his death and married. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1980-1992 and, after spending one year in the Navy Reserve, he enlisted in the Virginia Guard in 1993.

The deaths of Beasley and Cherry marked the first combat deaths of mobilized Virginia Guard Soldiers since the end of World War II in 1945. No Virginia Guard units served in theater during the Korean or Vietnam wars and while eight units served in Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991, no Soldiers were killed in combat. One Virginia Guard Soldier died during Desert Storm as a result of non-combat injuries suffered in a vehicle crash.

To honor the sacrifice and memory of these two Soldiers, their operating base in Afghanistan was renamed from “Camp Bulldog” to “Camp Cherry-Beasley.” In addition, two training villages located at Fort Pickett are named in their honor. A dedication ceremony was held in October 4, 2009, to name the readiness center in Winchester in their memory.