On Thursday, 500 soldiers and family members from 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, gathered to pay tribute to battalion’s fallen soldiers during a memorial service at their old battalion headquarters.
Assembled around a marble monument dedicated to the warriors, the soldiers and families listened to battalion commander Lt. Col. Johnnie Johnson read the names of the soldiers inscribed on the monument’s wall.
“Staff Sgt. Christopher Hake, Sgt. Steve McCoy, Cpl. James Gudridge, Cpl. William O’Brien, Spc. Jose Rubio-Hernandez, Pfc. Andrew Habsieger, PV2 George Delgado and Pvt. Ronald Harrison,” he read.
“We are indeed grateful to honor these great, fallen Tuskers who are no longer with us. We recognize them and are humbled by their sacrifice and will continue to hold the warmest thoughts and memories of them in our hearts.”
Keeping with their slogan, the Tusker memorial service pierced at the hearts and minds of those closest to those whose lives were lost from the battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom 5.
Brenda and Mike Habsieger, parents of Andy Habsieger, flew in from Missouri for the ceremony.
“It lets you know he is not going to be forgotten,” Brenda Habsieger said of the ceremony. “He touched a lot of lives … it’s just breath-taking.”
For the soldiers present, the ceremony was about closure and making peace with the past.
Spc. Roxana Sykes with Echo Co., 703rd Support Battalion, a battalion attached to 4/64 AR, was there to honor her friend, Rubio Hernandez.
“People don’t realize the emotional toll it takes on us. You put it out of your mind,” she said, “but every once in a while we have to come back and remind ourselves of the things that other people have done … that there are other people who are not standing here so that we could be standing here today.”
On Monday, 4-64 will end its term as an armored battalion. Troops become the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.
The battalion’s Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Greene said the memorial helps to close a chapter in the Tuskers’ book.
“To honor the families and be able to show them we love them and that their loved ones will never be forgotten, it helps us get a little bit closer to closure,” he said.