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Three more trees added to Warriors Walk
Family and friends of SSgt. Ronald Phillips, 33, leave mementos at the red bud tree dedicated in his honor Thursday at Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk. A carved granite marker with the soldier’s name was unveiled. - photo by Photo by Joe Parker, Jr.
Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo opened Thursday’s Warriors Walk tree ceremony searching for words to convey the Army’s sorrow over losing three 3rd Infantry Division soldiers in September.
“I do not have the words to describe the loss we have all suffered in the deaths of these three fine soldiers,” Cucolo said.
The general spoke at the dedication of three eastern red bud trees on Warriors Walk to honor noncommissioned officers of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment and 4th Brigade Combat Team who died in Iraq.
He described the three as both professional and playful, and took a moment to sympathize with the relatives of the fallen soldiers, acknowledging that each service member will be missed by two families — “the family back home, and the family each one has in their own unit.”
Cucolo told the crowd of the day he visited a wounded 3-7 IN soldier at Walter Reed and informed the service member of his three colleagues’ deaths. Upon hearing the news, the wounded soldier exclaimed, “Sir, they were the best we had.”
  SSgt. Darris J. Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., and Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin, 26, of Hurst, Texas, died Sept. 14 in Tunnis, Iraq, of wounds sustained in a non-combat incident.  The two were reportedly shot by a fellow soldier in an incident still under investigation.
SSgt. Ronald Phillips Jr., 33, of
Conway, S.C., died Sept. 25 in Bahbahani, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered a bomb. Many of his friends and family attended Thursday’s ceremony and a brother of one of the fallen soldiers seemed to vocalize everyone’s thoughts. “What can I say? He was my brother, and now he’s gone.”
Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich, 39, of Minneapolis, Minn., has been charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Dawson and Durbin.
"Sgt. Bozicevich is currently in pretrial confinement in the local area," said Col. Terry Ferrell, 3rd ID chief of staff. "I want to emphasize that throughout the military justice process Sgt. Bozicevich is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty of the charges against him."
Cucolo attended Dawson's funeral Sept. 25 in Pensacola, while Brig. Gen. Patrick Donahue, 3rd ID deputy division commander, attended Durbin's funeral Sept. 23 in Hurst.
The addition of a memorial tree for each of these fallen soldiers will bring the total number of trees on Warriors Walk to 417. The Eastern Red Bud trees planted on Warriors Walk serve as living monuments to the men and women of the U.S. Army, the National Guard and the 3rd Infantry Division.
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