Fort Polk pays tribute to 96 fallen soldiers for their Memorial Day Ceremony

Published: May. 27, 2021 at 7:06 PM CDT|Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 7:20 PM CDT
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FORT POLK, La. (KALB) - This coming Monday (May 31), the nation will stop and remember those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for the USA, but Fort Polk started their celebration early Thursday (May 27) morning.

The ceremony took place at Warrior Memorial Park as soldiers and civilians fought back tears, remembering the men and women who lost their lives defending the United States. In total, 96 Fort Polk soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in the Middle East since 2003.

“The cost of freedom is not born equally by all Americans,” Brigadier General (BG) David Doyle said. “If you go around the country, you will see tributes to the service and sacrifice of our military members.”

Five Gold Star families sat front and center at Fort Polk’s Memorial Day Ceremony. The Colunga family gave an exclusive interview to KALB about the loss of Specialist (SPC) Zeferino Eusebio Colunga, who passed away Aug. 6, 2003.

“He was a dream come true,” Juanita Colunga, SPC (Zeferino) Colunga’s mother, said. “He was a perfect son.”

SPC Colunga passed away in a Germany Hospital after his battle with cancer while stationed overseas.

“The next day is when we made it to Washington DC, but we didn’t make it in time,” Teresa Colunga-Hernandez, SPC (Zeferino) Colunga’s sister, said.

SPC Colunga’s family did not get to see him before he passed, but they did get the chance to hear his voice.

“I called his name,” Colunga-Hernandez said. “And said I know what’s going on. Don’t worry about it. I got it, kid. And he started bucking and fighting against the ventilator. And Captian (CPT) Hines said I have to go. He heard you, but he’s not doing too good. He started crying and fighting.”

This coming Monday, the nation will stop to say “thank you” to service members like SPC Colunga and the many others who lost their lives.

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