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Even the skies weep for fallen soldiers
Three more trees on Warriors Walk
sylvestre jonathon m lg1
Spc. Jonathon M. Sylvestre - photo by Photo provided.
“I believe the angels are weeping this morning,” Army chaplain Lt. Col. William Ralston said before offering the invocation during a tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk on Thursday under dreary, rain-laden skies.
The 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who were memorialized with the dedication of three eastern redbud trees included Spc. Jonathon M. Sylvestre of the 1-10th Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade stationed at Fort Benning; Staff Sgt. Briand Williams, also of the 1-10th Field Artillery at Fort Benning; and Pfc. Jaiciae L. Pauley of Headquarters Company Medical Platoon, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Stewart.
Sylvestre, 21, of Colorado Springs, Colo., had one year of active military service. He died Nov. 2, in Kut, Iraq, from non-combat related injuries. Sylvestre was the son of Sharron and James Sylvestre.
Williams, 25, of Sparks, had seven years of service and three previous deployments. He was killed Nov. 22, in Numaniyah, Iraq, when his unit was attacked by insurgents using small arms fire. Williams is survived by his wife Atiyhia, daughter Brianna, son Antonio, mother Tonya Flippen, father Fred Williams Jr., and a sister, Kyra Williams.
Pauley, 29, of Austell, had one year of active military service. He died Dec. 11, in Kirkuk, Iraq, from non-combat related injuries. Pauly was the son of Munice, Ind., residents Roger and Teressa Pauley.
Both Pauly and Sylvestre’s families have not authorized the release of their sons’ respective manners of death, according to Fort Stewart spokesperson Kevin Larson.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd ID deputy commander general-rear, compared the dedication of patriotic volunteers with the dedication of those who serve in uniform.
He described dedicated volunteers who at 2 a.m. “are serving coffee and goodies and hugs, and waving Old Glory” when soldiers deploy.
“We depend on them,” Phillips said.
The general said soldiers are also volunteers, on whom their country depends.
“We are a volunteer army,” he said.
Phillips eulogized each soldier in turn, giving shape to their individual lives.
Williams, the general said, grew up in Valdosta. He wrestled and played football in high school.
“Sgt. Williams was resourceful as a leader and mentor,” Phillips said. “He (also) will be remembered for his big hugs and his appetite for a good meal.”
Staff Sgt. Joseph Nicholas served with Williams, and said he will simply miss his friend’s company.
“We talked about work, about life,” Nicholas said. “He (Williams) loved his family.”
Nicholas smiled when he spoke of Williams’ rigorous workouts.
“He was like an animal in the gym. He always worked harder, he couldn’t do enough.”
Pauley, Phillips said, was an only child and was close to his father.
“J.C. (Pauley) had a warm and noble heart,” the general said. “He had wanted to make a difference. So he chose to be a medic.”
Phillips described Pauley as “a master of the computer” and said he lived “in service to others.”
Sylvestre was a team leader, the general said, and had a wry sense of humor that he’d use “to lighten the mood” when he and his fellow soldiers were tense or out in bad weather.
“He (Sylvestre) had just turned 21 and his friends said he was looking forward to a legal brew,” Phillips said.
The young specialist was interred at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver. The general said people lined the streets when Sylvestre was brought home for burial.
There are now 424 trees lining Warriors Walk, dedicated to soldiers who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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