Names of 4 soldiers killed in Niger added to memorial wall
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — The names of four Special Forces soldiers killed last year in an ambush in Niger were among 12 added to a memorial wall at Fort Bragg.
The Fayetteville Observer reported the names of Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Sgt. La David Johnson were added Thursday to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Memorial Wall.
The four died in the Niger ambush in October.
Each soldier was an exceptional American who left behind a legacy of valor, professionalism and selfless service, said Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
“Neither the words nor the deeds of the living can adequately honor the actions and commitment of those who gave the last full measure of devotion for the nation,” Tovo said.
But Tovo said the command and its soldiers must try to remember the lives of those fallen troops “to honor their sacrifice and to renew our promise to take care of those that they left behind.”
The wall includes combat deaths dating back to World War II. It now has the names of 1,218 soldiers from Special Forces, civil affairs, psychological operations, Rangers and other special operations units.
Hank Black, father of Bryan Black, said the family didn’t need a wall to ensure his son’s memory. But it’s reassuring to know that others will remember him, Hank Black said.
“They’re going to remember his name,” Black said. “They’ll remember what he did and how he died. And I think that is a crucial thing.”
The families of the four soldiers, who are from Florida to Washington, hadn’t previously gathered in one place.
Michelle Black, the widow of Bryan Black, said the families of the four soldiers have found a common bond that is helping each of them heal.
“More than anything, we’ve spent time with the families of the other fallen soldiers,” she said. “That’s probably been one of the most important things for me . to be able to connect and gain support with each other as we go through the same things.”
Earlier this month, Army investigators said the ambush was an attack unlike anything American troops had seen in Niger in the past, with a well-trained enemy force outnumbering the Americans and their allies 3-to-1.
Although some questions remain, Hank Black said one thing is clear: The Special Forces team performed amazingly against tremendous odds.
“We’ve looked very closely at what happened and we are humbled at how they fought, how they looked out for each other,” he said. “It’s a humbling experience to know these kinds of people and who was surrounding Bryan when he died.”
Other soldiers whose names were added to the wall are: Staff Sgt. Mark R. de Alencar, Staff Sgt. Aaron R. Butler, Sgt. 1st Class Stephen B. Cribbe, Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jacob M. Sims, Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, all of whom died in Afghanistan; and Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, who died in Mali.
Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com