Fort Polk honors fallen soldiers ahead of Memorial Day

FORT POLK, La. (KALB) -- Fort Polk held their annual Memorial Day ceremony at Warrior Memorial Park Thursday afternoon.

Fort Polk held their annual Memorial Day ceremony at Warrior Memorial Park Thursday afternoon. | Photo Source: KALB

Brigadier General Patrick Frank, the installation's Commanding General was the keynote speaker. He noted the 96th name on the Global War on Terror monument, which represents soldiers from Fort Polk and surrounding communities who have been killed since 2003. It belongs to Specialist Alexander Missildine, who was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device October 2017 in Iraq.

"Recently his former battalion commander, company commander and first sergeant all visited his hometown," said BG Frank from the podium. It was an emotional meeting with the family who described their own home as "the house that Alex built in the land that he defended."

"These are the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers and gold star families. Lost birthdays, weddings, births and anniversaries. Neighborhood walks with the family and dreams of the future," BG Frank said.

Several Gold Star families attended Thursday's ceremony, like Debby Cleghorn. Her father, Army Captain Everett Dennis Keaton was killed on January 20th, 1970 during the Vietnam War. The infantry officer was awarded his second Silver Star posthumously for shielding another soldier from an explosion after the wire leading to it was tripped. Cleghorn says memorial day means a lot because her father's generation of soldiers didn't receive the same support and homecoming as troops do today.

"They're only just getting what they should have received when they were coming home. It was a shame that when these young men who had been over and fought (in Vietnam) came home and had to change their clothes before they went to the airport because people would say vile things to them, spit on them...They should never ever be forgotten and as long as their name is said, they'll be remembered."

Bravo Battery, 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment performed a 21 gun salute at the ceremony. Specialist Terry L. Turner sounded TAPS.

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