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Local group prepares for wreath ceremony
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Their names are marked by numbers: Ssg. George Alexander Jr. is No. 269; Ssg. Steve Butcher is No. 337; and Spc. Ryan Carlock is No. 43.
The numbers continue, the trees keep growing, and the soliders’ memory lives on.  
For members of the local organization Wreaths for Warriors Walk, these men and women might be gone but they are not forgotten.
“We feel the loss also,” group member Bruce Muncher said. “This is home, this is our family.”
“We want people to know that not only do their family members care, not only does the Army care, but those of us who live here, who work here, also care.”   
The organization is made up of veterans, civilian personnel at Fort Stewart and Liberty County residents. They are committed to ensuring those whose names line the sidewalk at Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field  all casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom — are remembered during the holiday season.
For the past two years, the organization has collected donations for the wreath ceremony.  For $15, a wreath can be purchased for a soldier’s family to place at the foot of an Eastern Redbud tree.
This year’s ceremony, the second at Fort Stewart, is scheduled for noon on Dec. 13.
Although the organization already has enough wreaths for this year, group leader Tony Justi said any help would be appreciated. There are supplies to buy.
“All the members volunteer their services,” he said. “None of them get paid, and often times, if there is something the group needs, the members will pay for it out of their own pockets.”
The group expects a large gathering for the event.
“We’ve already sent out more than 500 invites and a good part of the division is already home for the year,” Justi said.
“We just want to see as big of a turnout as possible,” Muncher said.
For the members of Wreaths for Warriors Walk, a soldier’s life lost is much more than a number on a tree.
“For us, it’s personal,” group secretary Susan Ammons said. “We may not know them personally, but we see these families at each tree dedication ceremony, and we feel their pain.”
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