Families remember 7 Fort Riley soldiers who died this year

By Bryan Richardson

Sabina Edwards tried to keep it together when thinking about a particular memory of her son, the late Spc. Terry Gordon.

Edwards said seeing the color guard during the annual Victory Park ceremony Thursday at Fort Riley brought back memories for her.

Gordon, she said, was a part of the color guard, also doing funeral duty.

“No matter what job they gave him, he did with honor, and he did it with pride for his battalion,” Edwards said.

The ceremony honored the 1st Infantry Division soldiers who died within the past year.

Maj. Gen. Paul Funk, commanding general, called them “great” and “uncommon” Americans.

“Today, we honor the heroes who lived their lives for something greater than themselves,” he said.

The seven soldiers who died in the past year were Spc. Angel Lopez, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy Billings, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Silverman, Sgt. 1st Class Omar Forde, Sgt. Peter Bohler, Spc. Terry Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class William Lacey.

Their names were added to Victory Park, where bricks are placed along the walkway as a memorial to those soldiers.

The ceremony also honored Medal of Honor recipients who died in the past year: Sgt. Alfred B. Neitzel, Sgt. Candelario Garcia and Staff Sgt. Walter D. Ehlers.

Edwards said she felt blessed to attend the ceremony.

“It’s a very special moment for us,” she said. “It’s touching. It brings back a lot of memories.”

Edwards said Gordon was proud of everything he and the battalion did.

“Even though I wasn’t here, he kept me abreast on everything he was doing,” she said. “To come here and to see it is very emotional.”

Edwards said her son’s feeling about the Big Red One became clear when the family got his personal items.

She said everything he had included something about the Big Red One.

“He loved life and loved his Big Red One family,” Edwards said. “He loved his home family, but he also loved his Big Red One family just as much.”

Funk told the families during the ceremony they are also family.

“Your soldier is a Big Red One soldier, and you are members of the Big Red One family and always part of us,” he said.

Funk said each soldier went beyond the call of duty.

“Even our seasoned soldiers often marvel at the sheer determination and will that our fallen mustered under fire in unimaginable circumstances,” he said.

Funk told the audience the memories of the soldiers would endure.

“Although they no longer walk with us, train with us or laugh with us as the soldiers do whenever they can, their spirit will always fight on with us,” he said.

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