KABUL, Afghanistan –
Challenging all present to be worthy of them, General John Nicholson, Resolute Support commander, paid tribute today to those who have lost their lives in the Afghanistan war.
During the Memorial Day ceremony, a solemn silence permeated the courtyard as Nicholson paid respect to all of the fallen service members from the Afghanistan war.
American and coalition forces stood in parade rest as he delivered a powerful message sharing the stories of three of his soldiers who died under his command.
“I loved these soldiers. They died doing missions, that I gave them … these Soldiers are my examples; I draw strength and character from them. I have been blessed to have them in my life. These are the incredible soldiers who we honor today, on Memorial Day. We must all – each of us – be worthy of them,” Nicholson expressed.
On May 5, 2006, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Fenty was up the Chigal Valley of Kunar province, extracting one of his scouts squads from a high altitude operation. The helicopter had a blade strike and crashed on the side of a mountain, killing all 10 onboard. Joe was the last one found. His daughter is now 11 years old. She never knew her father, according to Nicholson.
“Joe Fenty, a leader who led by example in all he did, a leader of integrity and courage, a leader who inspires me to this day. Remember him,” Nicholson said.
Private First Class Justin Davis was 19 years old when he was killed in Kunar province June 25, 2006. He was a machine gunner who carried the heaviest loads.
“Remember Justin Davis,” Nicholson asked.
On June 21, 2006, Sergeant First Class Jared Monti was on a 16-man patrol when 60 enemy fighters hit their small element. During the overwhelming enemy fire, he did not hide but ran three times to save his fallen soldiers. As he lay dying he called out to his comrades and said: “I have made my peace with God, tell my parents I love them,” Nicholson described.
“Remember Jared Monti and his love of his soldiers,” Nicholson said to everyone present during the ceremony.
His remarks ended by sharing a piece of advice in dealing with the loss of those we love. We must honor and respect their choice to serve and their sacrifice, and to always remember them, Nicholson said.
“As leaders, I hope you know that you did everything you possibly could have done to get it right, because even if that is true, you are still left with the grieving and you will do that for the rest of your life,” the commander concluded.