CPT Stoney Portis and 1SG Ron Burton, along with the men of B Troop, presented me with a gift that is so incredible and touching words can't do it justice (photo below). Being presented an American flag that has flown over our men and women on foreign soil who are there to protect our freedom is ALWAYS an emotional moment for me. Today, I confess, I became so overwhelmed with emotion that I couldn't talk. I had to take a minute to compose myself. I think when you read the following excerpt from the certificate you will understand why.
The certificate reads, in part:
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
B TROOP, 3rd SQUADRON, 61st CAVALRY REGIMENT
4th BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, 4th INFANTRY DIVISION
FORT CARSON, COLORADO 80913
Commander, B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment
This flag was carried by Cavalry Scounts of B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment during Operation Mountain Overwatch along the Saw River Valley in Kunar Province, Afghanistan from 18 to 19 April 2010. This flag changed hands from dismounted cavalry scouts to infantrymen, traveled by way of CH-47 Chinook Helicopter over Jalalabad and in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle (MATV) through the Kunar River Valley. It moved in formations alongside the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, as well as with Soldiers from the Army of the Republic of Latvia. The mission was accomplished and the operation was a success.
May we always remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, allowing us to continue to fly the Star Spangled Banner. Killed in action on 03 October 2009 at Combat Outpost Keating:
Staff Sergeant Vernon W. Martin
Sergeant Justin T. Gallegos
Sergeant Joshua M. Hardt
Sergeant Joshua J. Kirk
Specialist Christopher T. Griffin
Specialist Stephan L. Mace
Specialist Michael P. Scusa
Private First Class Kevin C. Thomson
It is signed by:
Ronald T. Burton Stoney L. Portis
First Sergeant Captain, Armor
U. S. Army Commanding
The photo in the presentation was taken just after the men at COP Keating were evacuated back to FOB Bostick. I was told that there are helicopter pilots in the photo as well - pilots whose ships were hit numerous times on their first endeavors into COP Keating. But the pilots never gave up and finally made it in to both resupply and to evacuate.
The B Troop, 3-61 CAV scouts purposefully carried this flag and at least one other (which was presented to Bob Connolly) along with all of their regular gear throughout this incredible journey. As CPT Portis read the certificate and I listened to him read where this flag had gone and how it got there I found myself leaning on 1SG Burton. AND, I found myself remembering the hundreds of Americans who answered the call so quickly to resupply the survivors of COP Keating with personal gear. I may have the privilege of being in possession of this incredible honor but it belongs to ALL of you who answered that call back in October 2009. When I finally pulled myself together I told the Troops the story of how, in less than 2 days, all of you flooded my email box wanting to know how you could help.
I was proud to accept this on behalf of all of you who came together for the Black Kights and I have never been more proud to be an Americann and to have the privilege of supporting our troops and their families. May we ALWAYS remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice!