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Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day's True Meaning

American Forces Press Service Donna Miles May 23, 2008

WASHINGTON – To many Americans, Memorial Day means a day off from work with picnics, pool openings and barbecues. But for those who have lost a comrade or loved one in combat, the day takes on a whole new significance. Here are some of their stories.

Army 1st Lt. Brent Pounders

Army 1st Lt. Brent Pounders remembers his childhood, reading textbooks about patriots who have sacrificed their lives through the country's history and thinking of Memorial Day as the end of the school year.

"You think about it, but [its meaning] really doesn't hit home or register as much until you lose some of your dear friends and realize that their families are affected by this and what it actually signifies,"he said.

For Pounders, that significance hit home Jan. 20, 2007.

Twelve soldiers died that day when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was shot down east of Baghdad. Among them were three members of Pounders' unit, the Arkansas Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment, 77th Aviation Brigade, as well as a Texas National Guard soldier who worked closely with them on a day-to-day basis.

Pounds remembers Maj. Michael Taylor, the company commander, for his great sense of humor as he looked out for the best for his unit and held every soldier to the highest standard. First Sgt. John Brown, the company standardization instructor, was "one of those guys who always had a smile on his face, was always in a good mood and always willing to do anything he could to help."Sgt. Maj. William Warren had a funny habit of adding "and everything"to just about everything he said, prompting the unit to yell out the catch-line in unison just as Warren finished taping a video to send home from Iraq.

Capt. Sean Lyerly wasn't assigned to the unit, but quickly bonded with the Arkansas Guardsmen he worked with in the theater at Company C, 1st Brigade, 131st Aviation Regiment. "He was a really good guy who got along with everybody in the company,"Pounds recalls. "Everybody liked him, and he did a good job for us."

Pounders said the first Memorial Day spent back at home, away from the heavy operational demands of the combat zone, (read more)

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