AUGUSTA, Maine — Eleven dog tags bearing the names of servicemen with ties to Maine who died in Iraq or Afghanistan were added to a State House memorial Wednesday afternoon during a solemn, emotional military ceremony.
Addressing family members of the slain men, Maj. Gen. John Libby said combat soldiers share a unique bond in which they eagerly will give their lives to protect others within their “band of brothers.”
“It is humbling to be in your presence as we approach Memorial Day, a bittersweet holiday for many of us who served in uniform,” Libby, head of the Maine National Guard, told the family members gathered in the State House Hall of Flags.
Moments later, a member of a military honor guard picked up a dog tag and marched to the Battlefield Cross Memorial, a sculpture depicting a serviceman’s rifle standing upright between two boots with a combat helmet resting atop the rifle. The memorial, dedicated in 2009, is a tribute to Mainers killed in action during the Global War on Terrorism.
As an announcer read the serviceman’s name, the honor guard draped on the memorial the dog tag bearing his name, rank, date of death, country of death and hometown in Maine. He then stepped back and saluted. An identical dog tag later was presented to family members.
The draping ceremony was repeated 11 times as new tags were added to the 39 others already on the memorial honoring Maine service members who have died since September 2001.
The 11 military personnel honored Wednesday were:
• Capt. Christopher S. Cash of Old Orchard Beach, killed in Iraq on June 24, 2004.
• Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland, killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 14, 2009.
• Pfc. Jordan M. Brochu of Oakland, killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 31, 2009.
• Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk of South Portland, killed in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2009.
• Spc. Wade A. Slack of Waterville, killed in Afghanistan on May 6, 2010.
• Staff Sgt. Brandon M. Silk of Orono, killed in Afghanistan on June 21, 2010.
• Staff Sgt. Eric B. Shaw of Exeter, killed in Afghanistan on June 27, 2010.
• Pfc. Clinton E. Springer of Sanford, killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 24, 2010.
• First Lt. James R. Zimmerman of Smyrna Mills, killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 2, 2010.
• Cpl. Andrew L. Hutchins of New Portland, killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 8, 2010.
• Pvt. Buddy W. McLain of Mexico, killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 29, 2010.
During the ceremony, Gov. Paul LePage said, “mere words cannot do justice to the sacrifices” of those memorialized on the Battlefield Cross.
“However, we must come together to ensure that their memory is never forgotten,” LePage said.
“In this Hall of Flags, we can look around at memorials of many wars,” LePage continued. “They remind us that freedom is not our birthright but, rather, it is our inheritance from men and women who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The Battlefield Cross Memorial is on permanent display in the State House Hall of Flags.