Soldiers, friends and family members gathered for a solemn ceremony at Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk on Friday.
Cpl. Bryant J. Luxmore and Maj. Paul C. Voelke were remembered for their service and sacrifice with small granite monuments at the base of eastern red bud trees. Their trees bring the number of living monuments to 443. Each tree honors 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan.
As family members arrived and were escorted up the long walk to the VIP tent, the 3rd ID band played “Amazing Grace ” and a light breeze brought some relief from the muggy summer heat.
“Today, we’re honoring two patriots who gave the last full measure of service,” said Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams, commander of the 3rd ID and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, who referred to Warriors Walk as “hallowed ground.” “These men were the best of their generation.”
Abrams said Luxmore and Voelke represented that 1 percent of Americans who took an oath to protect their country, noting that the Army they served in while the country is at war is different than in previous wars because it’s an all-volunteer Army.
Abrams said memorials like Warriors Walk are on nearly all Army installations as a way of remembering and honoring those volunteers who gave their all for their comrades and for their country. He said Warriors Walk ensures men like Luxmore and Voelke will not be forgotten, even 100 years from now.
Abrams told guests that Luxmore was an infantryman who sometimes confused his superiors as to his duty assignment because he always was taking on additional duties well above his pay grade, which Abrams said was why he was promoted to corporal.
The three loves of Luxmore’s life were his wife Jamie, stepson Lane and baseball, Abrams said. As the general listed the roles Luxmore played in the lives of others — brother, son, nephew and husband — he visibly choked up and paused before saying the words father and soldier.
Abrams described Voelke as leading by “outstanding example,” but said the infantry officer was most known for the “castle” he created with his wife Traci and sons Andrew and Benjamin. Like Luxmore, he said Voelke was a son, brother, nephew, husband, father and soldier.
“The flags here at Warriors Walk represent the nation we serve,” Abrams said. “The trees represent the living spirit of our fallen warriors. May God bless America, and may God bless the families of those soldiers we honor here today.”
Following his remarks, 3rd ID Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson led the official ceremony in which Staff Sgt. Derek Baxter, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, uncovered Luxmore’s monument, then Maj. Mark Weaver, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, uncovered Voelke’s monument.
Afterward, family members and friends were invited to come forward and pay their respects to their loved one’s monument. Some laid flowers and personal mementos around their tree.
About 40 members of the Luxmore and Voelke families attended the ceremony, including their wives, children, parents and siblings. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah was among special guests in attendance.
Luxmore, who was born on Nov. 3, 1986, in New Windsor, Ill., died June 10 in Panjwai, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries suffered by enemy small-arms fire. He was assigned to 1/64th Armor, 2nd Heavy Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Voelke, who was born June 15, 1976, in Monroe, N.Y., died June 22 in Sharif, Afghanistan, as a result of noncombat injuries. He served as the battalion executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.