FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — Volunteers helped set up the Honor the Fallen tree on November 29 which featured the photos and names of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers who died in service to their country.
According to a press release from Fort Drum, the Honor the Fallen holiday tree is located near the entrance of the Fort Drum Noncommissioned Officer Academy. The purpose of the tree is to serve as a reminder of soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, as well as a way the community can show that they and their families will never be forgotten.
Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Newman, NCOA commandant was just one volunteer who helped decorate the tree. While decorating, he was reminded of the friend and colleague he first met at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy who was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath his Humvee in Iraq.
Newman said it’s important to honor the soldiers who lost their lives for not only their friends and families but all the soldiers on base.
“For some of our young Soldiers who haven’t had the opportunity to deploy or haven’t experienced the loss of another Soldier, they will see this tree every day,” Newman said. “Some will ask questions and they will hear stories because there are Soldiers at the academy who knew some of these names on the tree. That’s why this is important.”
Two trees were decorated on post last year, but the project was expanded this year to include a third so that every fallen 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier is represented. The two other trees will be placed at Clark Hall and the Family Resource Center later this week.
Fort Drum chapter president of Giving Tuesday-Military Ashleigh Pursel Carlin said she plans on continuing to expand the project in the years to come.
“I have been in contact with some of the Gold Star families who aren’t local, and they are so excited to see pictures of the trees,” Pursel Carlin said. “They are happy that Fort Drum is thinking of their family during the holidays. What we have done in the past, and what I would like to do next year, is reach out to Gold Star families and ask them if they have a special photo that they would really like to see on the tree. And maybe we’ll see if we can get more trees added next year too.”