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Fort Stewart plants 12 more trees on Walk
Tribute for fallen soldiers
Family members of Spc. Alexander Rosa Jr. fight back tears during Thursday morning’s tree dedication ceremony on Fort Stewart. - photo by Photo by Andrea Washington
Growing up less than an hour away from Atlantic City, N.J., David Bentz III was an avid card player who dreamed of challenging the world’s best poker players in Texas hold ‘em under the glitzy lights of the city’s famous casinos.
Before starting his professional poker player career, though, the Newfield, N.J., native was busy being a standout soccer star for the Gloucester County Institute of Technology Cheetahs and studying to become a police officer.
But Bentz also had another career path in mind — joining the military.
With his alternate plan unknown to most of his friends, the 21-year-old enlisted in the U.S. Army. He would soon head to Iraq as a member of the 3rd Infantry Division's Bravo Company, 1-64 Armor Battalion, 2d Brigade.
Just five weeks into his deployment, Bentz was killed when the vehicle he was driving was hit by a makeshift bomb blast on June 20.
For his service, the young soldier earned five military medals, including both the Bronze Star for merit and a Purple Heart.
He was also honored Thursday morning with an eastern red bud tree and engraved granite marker along Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk.
Bentz was one of 12 new additions to the memorial for the division's fallen heroes, putting the number of trees and granite markers aligning the walk at 348.
An estimated 50 family members, representing 10 of the 12 soldiers honored, attended the ceremony, including members of the Bentz family.
As they sat, visibly shaken, post garrison commander Col. Todd Buchs said Bentz was more than a soldier to his loved ones.
“He was an affectionate son and loving brother to his two sisters. He would ask about his sisters every time he called home,” he said. “He asked his family to continue praying for him, while he was deployed.”
Recounting how the shy soldier called “Squeaks” by his comrades chose to go out on the mission that would become his last, the garrison commander said Bentz’s time served was not in vain.
“David’s commitment and sharp wit will always be missed,” Buchs said.
Noting the bravery of every soldier defending the country in the current conflicts, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, he also took time to address concerns about space along the memorial.
“So long as we have soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice in this right to fight,” he said, “we will have a place for their tree here at Warriors Walk.”
The following is a complete list of 3rd ID soldiers honored during Thursday’s tree ceremony:
• Staff Sgt. Steve Butcher Jr., 27, Penfield, N.Y.
• Spc. Daniel P. Cagle, 22, Torrance, Calif.
• Cpl. Victor H. Toledo-Pulido, 22, Hanford, Calif.
• Cpl. Jonathan D. Winterbottom, 21, Falls Church, Va.
• Spc. Alexander Rosa Jr., 22, Orlando, Fla.
• Pfc. Larry Parks Jr., 24, Altoona, Pa.
• Sfc. William A. Zapfe, 35, Covington, Ky.
• Pfc. Joshua S. Modgling, 22, Ellsworth Air Force Base,  Rapid City, S.D.
• Maj. Sid W. Brookshire, 36, Springfield, Mo.
• Staff Sgt. Darren P. Hubbell Sr., 38, Jacksonville, Fla.
• Cpl. Joe G. Charfauros Jr., 33, Rota, Guam
• Pfc. David J. Bentz III, 21, Newfield, N.J.
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