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3rd ID salutes fallen warriors
Flags fly alongside a granite memorial marker at the base of an eastern red bud tree on Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart. - photo by Photo by Jimmy McSalters
The eastern red bud trees blooming bright lavender flowers on Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk are representing the living memory of more than 300 fallen soldiers including two who died young.
On Thursday, 3rd Infantry commanding general Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch remembered the lives and service of two men not yet 20 years old who were killed in Iraq last month, raising the dDivision’s losses to 320.
“We’re indebted to Matthew and Kelly,” Lynch said. “Young and old soldiers alike will walk these paths and remember what they have given.”  
Pvt. Matthew T. Zeimer, 18,  and Pvt. Kelly D. Youngblood, 19,  had many things in common including their zeal for the military and their deaths while serving their country.
Zeimer, a native of Glendive, Mont. died Feb. 2 in Ramadi, Iraq, of injuries sustained when he came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire. He was the first 3rd ID soldier killed since the third deployment began. Seventeen days later, Youngblood, of Mesa, Ariz., died in Ramadi of wounds suffered during combat. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team's 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment and deployed in January.
Zeimer, who joined the Army on June 13, 2006, was proud to be a soldier, and he was determined, helpful and kind, said Spc. David Seth, one of Zeimer’s close friends. He often talked about his family and his fiancée, and how much he looked forward to being reunited with them.
“Matthew wasn’t interested in being a hero,” Seth said. “Being a soldier was good enough for him.”
Zeimer’s father, Thomas Epperson; mother, Janet Seymour; stepfather, Ned Seymour; and four siblings, including his twin sister, Tonya, attended the ceremony Thursday.
Youngblood had one year and one month of military service under his belt. He died just 16 days after arriving in Iraq for the start of his first combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was the 1BCT’s second lost since it deployed.
Although Youngblood's family had reservations about him being a soldier, he joined up anyway. "I'll do what I gotta do and I'll be home," Youngblood told his mother before he deployed. His mother feared for his life. He was struck down by sniper fire while exiting his tank. Kristen Chacon and Youngblood's stepfather TJ Chacon attended Thursday's ceremony.

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