FORT RILEY — The 1st Infantry Division held its annual Victory Park ceremony Wednesday to commemorate the soldiers who have died in combat while assigned or attached to the division.
The outdoor ceremony, which was held at division headquarters, commemorated 10 soldiers from various units within the division who died in 2012. They were Capt. Michael C. Braden, Staff Sgt. Zachary H. Hargrove, Spc. Cody O. Moosman, Sgt. Erik N. May, 1st Lt. Todd W. Lambka, Pfc. Jesus J. Lopez, Capt. James D. Nehl, Staff Sgt. Matthew H. Stiltz, Sgt. Channing B. Hicks and Sgt. Joseph A. Richardson.
“Anyone who knew him knew his stories,” said Ashley Richardson, Sgt. Joseph A. Richardson’s wife. “He was always a little over the top, he liked to be like Rambo.”
Richardson and her husband had celebrated their second wedding anniversary Nov. 5; he was killed 11 days later.
Each soldier was memorialized on a large grey metallic “brick” that runs along each side of the sidewalk on the side of the division headquarters building. The 10 were added to 541 bricks already in place, one for each person affiliated with the post who was killed during the Global War on Terror.
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk spoke in remembrance of those who have died during battle and referenced numerous writers who defined the “ultimate sacrifice” of a soldier.
“For soldiers, protecting freedom is a way of life,” Funk said. “We’re extending a legacy of those who bought our freedom a long time ago.”
As each name wasread, the victory bell was rung and a brick was uncovered. After a bagpipe played “Amazing Grace,” followed by a moment of silence for those being memorialized and those who came before them.
“The memorial stirred up feelings of grief and loss but was also comforting,” said Kristin Stiltz, the sister of Staff Sgt. Matthew H. Stiltz.
“Over the years it will be a comforting place to return to but right now it is too raw…I remember my brother every day; it is constant.”