FORT RILEY — Friends and family gathered on post Tuesday morning to honor 16 Fort Riley soldiers who died this year in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Those names will be added to Fort Riley’s Global War on Terrorism monument, a marble replica of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Sierra Herring, formerly Sierra Lister, came to the ceremony to honor her late husband, Spc. Josph Lister.
He deployed to Iraq Sept. 7, 2003, with the 134th Armored Division, leaving behind his new wife and two-week-old son, Micah. Josph died in Armidi, Iraq, on Nov. 20, 2003, only two months into the deployment.
Herring, who has since remarried, said although she loved him and grieved his death, she continues to celebrate Lister’s life and the sacrifices he made for his family and his country. She said she couldn’t let his death stop her from living.
“You can’t let it choose to kill you,” Herring said.
Herring found comfort and companionship with Joe’s best friend, who had been staying with the Listers since arriving at Fort Riley in 2003. William “Trey” Herring was not only Joe’s best friend, but also a friend of the entire family.
“We grieved together,” Herring said. “My mom was concerned that that was what was bringing us together, but we found other bonds.”
Almost two years later, Herring was faced with the same situation she faced with Joe. Trey found out he was going to be deployed, and he asked Herring to marry him. She refused. She said she wouldn’t go through that again. So she made him wait until he came back on leave before marrying.
Then, while she was throwing a party in celebration of Joe’s life on Nov. 20, 2005, one of the guests had to leave to inform another soldier’s family that a loved one had died. Dominic “Nick” Sacco was killed in combat on the anniversary of Joe’s death.
Sierra said she instantly wondered where Trey was and wanted to contact him, but as military procedure dictates, all communication lines were shut down until Sacco’s family had been notified. Sierra said they have been lucky since Trey has not had to deploy since 2005. They now have three daughters together.
Herring said her son, Micah, now 9, accepts Trey as his father as much as he accepts Joe.
Herring said she sees Joe in her son.
“Joe was the life of the party, and his son is spitting image of him—attitude and all,” she said.
Sierra said that sometimes people say children are the result of the people they are around and grow up with, but that’s not the case with Micah. She said he is all Joe.
“It was like the day Joe died, all of him when into this boy,” she said. “He’s the life of the party.”
Micah said his favorite picture is the one in which Trey is holding Micah as a newborn and Joe is standing next to him all smiles.
At the ceremony Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Donald MacWillie said the occasion was a time not only to remember friends and family, but also to remember “most especially our battle buddies, who we ate with, slept with and fought with” during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Those soldiers were Spc. Chazray C. Clark, Sgt. Jakob J. Roelli, Spc. Robert E. Dyas Jr., Spc. Garrett A. Fant, 1st Lt. Dustin D. Vincent, Pfc. Cody R. Norris, Sgt. 1st Cl. Dennis R. Murray, Sgt. Ryan D. Sharp, St. Sgt. Jesse J. Grindey, St. Sgt. Jamie D. Jarboe, Cpt. Michael C. Braden, St. Sgt. Zachary H. Hargrove, Spc. Cody O. Moosman, Sgt. Erik N. May, 1st Lt. Todd W. Lambka, and Pfc. Jesus J. Lopez.
“Each of them represent our community,” MacWillie said. “They represent our values, our dreams, our everlasting pride and admiration.”
Herring was there with her son and one of her daughters remembering those who, like Joe Lister, sacrificed their lives defending their country.