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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2014  09:08:29 AM

Fallen service members remembered

Email   Print   Share By Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Staff
May 29, 2014 | News
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Wearing a hood to shield his head from the falling rain, Charles Luna pauses for a moment of reflection at the headstone of his father, Master Sgt. Jessie Luna, a Vietnam veteran with more than 20 years of service, on Memorial Day Monday at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
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Jennifer Owens looks over the 2013 stone monument bearing the name of her daughter, Spc. Ember Alt, a 4th Inf. Div. Soldier and a graduate of Killeen High School, on Memorial Day Monday at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
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During the ceremony to unveil the 2013 addition to the Central Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial, Family members and friends of Spc. Ember Alt, one of three Soldiers etched onto the monument, are overcome with emotion on Memorial Day Monday at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
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Family and friends grieve the loss of Spc. Ember Alt, a 4th Inf. Div. Soldier killed in Afghanistan, pictured on the far left next to 1st Lt. Jason Togi, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., and Staff Sgt. Lyle Turnbull, 11th Sig. Bde.
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ABOVE, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, shares remarks from the podium during the Memorial Day ceremony Monday at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
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Michael Barker and John Cook, members of Star Group–Veterans Helping Veterans, render a salute after laying a wreath during the Memorial Day ceremony Monday at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. (Photos by Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Staff)
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”

This Arthur Ashe quote adorns the most recent addition to the Central Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial, a series of stones dedicated to remembering those lost to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, housed inside the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.

Unveiled during a somber Memorial Day ceremony Monday, the 2013 stone bears the names and faces of three Soldiers – Spc. Ember Alt, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado; 1st Lt. Jason Togi, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division; and Staff Sgt. Lyle Turnbull, 11th Signal Brigade.

III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said Memorial Day is about honoring service members who “gave all of their tomorrows so that we could have our today.”

“We salute the fallen,” Milley said. “And though they are beyond our praise, we will praise them nonetheless.”

Before revealing the 2013 memorial stone, Patrick Turck, president of the Central Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial, stated the importance of remembering the 629 men and women represented on these monuments.

“We wanted to make sure these Soldiers were remembered as individuals, not just names on a stone, but as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters,” Turck said. “They were important members of our community, and they were loved dearly by their friends and Family. We are

forever indebted to them and to all service members in our great country’s history for laying the foundation for the great country that we live in today.”

Turck also read comments provided by the Family and friends of 2013’s three Soldiers.

About Alt, 21, who graduated from Killeen High School, loved ones remembered “her smile said it all.”

“If you needed motivation or someone to talk to about your problems, she was there,” Turck read. “Those who knew her were in contact with an angel on Earth.”

Togi, 24, married less than a year before his deployment, was remembered as a great leader and an outstanding Soldier.

“Jason always had a smile for everyone,” one comment read, another pointing out his infectious smile and his wise cracks.

“I owe my life and the lives of my Soldiers to him,” Turck read about Togi.

Turnbull, 31, was remembered as an exceptional man, father and husband, with comments also describing him as “a good battle buddy and a great friend.”

“As you can see from the comments about these heroes, the loss to our community is a great one,” Turck said. “These were amazing individuals who impacted other people’s lives on a daily basis. They’re not just names on a wall; they were real people, and we hope that this memorial will remind people for years to come just how important they were to each one of us.”

Across the cemetery grounds, many had private moments to pay their respects.

Kim Sherman, who returned to the gravesite of her husband, Staff Sgt. Richard Sherman, a Vietnam veteran, said she thinks of the good times.

“For the memories, I come here to see him,” Kim said.

Charles and Michelle Luna, brother and sister, gathered at the headstone of their father, Master Sgt. Jessie Luna, a Vietnam veteran with more than 20 years of service.

“It’s special to come back and pay our respects to him,” Charles said.

Michelle spoke of how proud they were of their father’s service and how thankful they were to see the show of support from the community at the cemetery Monday.

“Central Texas has given a lot,” Milley said. “It’s given far more than its share in blood and sacrifice and pain at the altar of freedom.

“And it’s our duty as the living to never forget the dead,” he added. “We honor our fallen with military funerals and ramp ceremonies and monuments and then once a year with an observance that we call Memorial Day. But that isn’t enough. We have a duty to remember, not only today but every day.”
 
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