After visiting with the rear detachment office at the 3-69 AR BN I stopped at the memorial site called Warrior’s Walk at Fort Stewart. Spending the afternoon on the base and seeing scores of Army soldiers where ever I went kept my mind on the young sergeant in the 3-69 who lost his life January 10 in a small arms fight. I never met SGT. Wittman, but he is a graduate of The Citadel and a member of the same battalion my son is in so I do share some connections with him. My heart aches for his family. Taking a few moments and walking along the Warrior’s Walk I found myself praying for the scores of families who are now one member short.
Shortly after arriving I met an older gentleman along the walk. His arms were full of small American flags on sticks. He wore a Vietnam Veteran ball cap. He was replacing worn flags with new ones all along the walk. We chatted for a bit, I thanked him for his service and continued my quiet walk.
Each tree has a small circle around it. Family and friends can leave items beneath the tree. I found myself stopping and pondering the items left. Some had a token from a favorite sports team. Some were covered in small angel statues. One had spurs, various statues, and a single boot at the foot of the tree.
The tree that hit me the most was one toward the front. A small photo of a young boy hung from a branch. Was this the soldier as a young boy? I try not to think about what I would do if it was my son that this tree stood for, but with this tree I immediately thought of the photo I have of my 4-year-old with his old Army helmet on one Christmas morning.
Warrior’s Walk is a beautiful tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. There are just too many trees there.
As I left the walk my new Vietnam Veteran friend showed me the small opening in the pillar that holds the directory of the trees. One day soon SGT. Wittman will be in that booklet. I hope to attend the dedication service.