No new service members were added to the US Army Special Operations Command memorial wall during a Gold Star Memorial Ceremony Thursday morning at the Memorial Plaza at USASOC Headquarters on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
That means, for the first time since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, no one assigned to USASOC has died in combat during the past year.
The memorial wall bares 1,242 names of soldiers who have died in combat since USASOC was first established. Of the names on the wall, 377 have been added since the Global War on Terrorism began.
“We’ve gotten good enough in certain areas of what we do that lives have been protected, and lives have been saved, and another family doesn’t have to get a call at 4:37 on a Friday afternoon, ‘honey, why are there two guys on my front porch in dress blue uniforms,’” said Wendall Pelham, a Gold Star father in attendance for the ceremony. “That call, as you can imagine, literally changed our lives forever. And to know that in the last year, nobody’s family got that call — that is heaven sent.”
His son, Spc. John Pelham, 22, was assigned to Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group at the time of his death on Feb. 12, 2014. Spc. Pelham died after sustaining wounds from small arms fire during an insider attack in Kapisa province, Afghanistan.
Pelham said that USASOC promised him and his family their son would never be forgotten.
“9 years later, the special operations community has never let me down,” Pelham said. “They have always stayed true to us and to their word that they would always remember.”
That was apparent to the Pelham family during the ceremony. The family aspect was palpable, whether you were a family member or one of the men or women serving in USASOC. Pelham said the ceremony continues to pay tribute to USASOC’s fallen and keeps their memories alive.
With Memorial Day weekend starting, Pelham wants people to understand what this weekend is about. He says all the BBQs, store sales, and well-wishes are fine, but make sure to spend time paying respect to America’s military members that made the ultimate sacrifice.
“Memorial Day is for those who gave their full measure, those who gave their last and final sacrifice to this country,” Pelham said. “Americans need to know that there are people in this country willing to do that.”