FORT RILEY — Not every fallen soldier with connections to the post fought under the American flag.
Fort Riley officers and German and Italian delegates from Fort Leavenworth paid tribute to soldiers from those countries who died as prisoners of war in a ceremony Thursday morning.
Fort Riley served as a POW camp during World War II, and 62 German and 11 Italian soldiers are buried at Fort Riley’s post cemetery.
“They are our comrades, even if it was 100 years ago, or if it was last week,” said Col. Carsten Treder, the German liaison to Fort Leavenworth.
November is the traditional time of the German Volkstrauertag, a day of remembrance not only for soldiers, but for civilians as well.
Treder said it was an honor for him to come and have the opportunity to remember his predecessors.
“We are thankful for the community and Fort Riley, that they support us,” Treder said.
Both German and Italian liaisons spoke at the ceremony and placed wreaths on the graves of prisoners.
“It’s a great honor for me to pay honor to those who died defending my beloved country,” said Lt. Col. Massimiliano Mongillo, the Italian liaison to Fort Leavenworth.
Mongillo said it was a unique opportunity to come together with Italian, German and American representatives to remember those who died doing their duty for their countries.
And although 70 years have passed, Treder said that some things have remained the same.
“It’s still a soldier on the front lines who risks his life for freedom,” he said. “That hasn’t changed.”