03 October 2017
Gold Star Families Release Balloons in Honor of Lost Loved Ones
Jenni Benson, USAG Public Affairs

Marcie Handrich, aunt to Spc. Joseph Riley, killed in action on Nov. 24, 2014, writes a message to her nephew on a balloon before releasing it to the skies at the Gold Star Family event at Nallin Pond Sept. 28. Photo by Jenni Benson, USAG Public Affairs
A somber, but important event took place at Fort Detrick's Nallin Pond to remember those fallen Soldiers Sept. 28. The Army Community Services division held a balloon release to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice with Gold Star Family members in attendance. Families and others from the Fort Detrick community gathered in solidarity to show support and to assure those families that have lost loved ones that they will not be forgotten.

As multi-colored balloons took to the sky, names of the fallen were read aloud.

"You all represent the enduring legacy of your Service Member's sacrifice to our Nation. This event is a way to remember and honor the surviving families as well as all of our fallen Service Members," said U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick Commander Col. Scott Halter.

Through tears, aunt to Spc. Joseph Riley, Marcie Handrich, spoke about her nephew; remembering his infectious smile that would light up a room and his desire to serve his country.

"It is no small thing, because every time someone remembers it give us a chance to remember, and every time we go to one of these events, we say we wish we didn't have to; but we will never miss an opportunity to remember," said Handrich speaking about the Gold Star gathering. "I drive past a flag almost every day that I'm out and I say ‘thank you, Joe.'"

She went on to talk about how Joe was born to be a Soldier and how he encouraged those around him.

Marcie and Uncle Chip Handrich shared photos of Joey and spoke of his service and his death and how it has impacted their family.

Lakisha Morrison shared about her cousin Pfc. Justin Davis, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 25, 2006, and how he was more like a brother than a cousin.

"Justin was my aunt's only child. He was 19 when he was killed in Afghanistan and, just like Joey, we feel like Justin was born to serve," said Morrison. "We don't want him to be forgotten, so anytime my aunt or the family can talk about him we ask that you remember Pfc. Justin Ray Davis who served with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum."

Gold Star events allow families to share about their loved ones; to bond with other families who have lost Service Members and who are going through the same situation, understanding they are not alone and can support one another through a very difficult time.

According to the Gold Star website, the Nation recognizes the sacrifice that all Gold Star Family members make when a father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter or other loved one dies in service to the Nation. Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day is the last Sunday of September and Gold Star Spouses Day is April 5. The strength of our Nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. The strength of our Soldiers is our families. The Army recognizes that no one has given more for the Nation than the families of the fallen.

For more information on the Gold Star program and Survivor Outreach Services at Fort Detrick, contact the program manager at (301) 619-2197, or visit: http://www.detrick.army.mil/acs/ and www.army.mil/goldstar/ .

Service Members recognized were:

Staff Sgt. Kenneth Bennett
Spc. Ronald Wildrick
Spc. Armando Matos Chamorro
Master Sgt. Michael Morgan Sgt. 1st Class William Bresley
Maj. Gen. Oliver Dillard
Lt. Col. David Cabrera
Sgt. Andrew Campbell
Master Sgt. John Carlin
Spec. Stephen Okray
Spec. David Cissel
Staff Sgt. Frederick Coalbrooke
Spec. Jeffrey Colbert
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gerald Cole
Pfc. Justin Davis
Pvt. Brandon Davis
Sgt. David Davis
Capt. John Dennison
Spc. Adam Richardson
Staff Sgt. Thor Ingraham
Spc. Tyler Hammett
Spc. Charles Fishpaw
Capt. Alfred Allard
Pfc. Ryan Peters
Sgt. Shanna Golden
Pfc. Tyler Stout Sgt. 1st Class William Gordon
Staff Sgt. Garfield Green
Spc. Joseph Riley
Staff Sgt. Laurent West
Spc. Erik Hayes
Spc. Jeremy Hill
Master Sgt. Howard Hinkle
Lt. Col. Matthew Ingraham
Spc. Lonnie Krueger
Sgt. Reno Lacerna
Cpl. Victor Langarica
Spc. Christopher Lutes
Spc. Stephan Mace
Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Hawthorne
Pvt. Philip Mask
Pvt. Timothy Harris
Spc. Tolga Ozkur
Pvt. Patrick McCauley
Capt. Adam Mooney
Master Sgt. James Decker
Sgt. Michael Merila
Sgt. Aaron Wolfe
Staff Sgt. Michael Thompson
Spc. George Mitchell
Spc. Robert Wright
Sgt. California Sharff
Lt. Gen. John Norton
Sgt. Helder Nunes
Staff Sgt. Fernando Orsini
Sgt. 1st Class Hobart Phillips
Spc. Coy Powell
Sgt. Kevin Prato
Sgt. Charles Pusateri
Lt. Col. Scott Reinert Sgt. 1st Class John Rinehart
Staff Sgt. Luis Rivera-Sanchez
Spc. Nokware Rosado
Staff Sgt. Stephen Seale
Staff Sgt. Adam Arndt
Capt. Jennifer Odom
Lt. Col. Robert Diefel
Maj. Raymond Slagle
Staff Sgt. Charles Patton
Pfc. Victor Stanfill
Master Sgt. Michael Stanislawczyk
Sgt. Thomas Sweet
Staff Sgt. Vincent Szamier
Staff Sgt. Dedric Taylor Sgt. 1st Class Barry Vance
Master Sgt. Donnie Varner
Sgt. 1st Class Lance Vogeler
Sgt. Michael Beckerman
Pfc. Christiaan Bush
Chief Warrant Officer 5 John Pratt
Sgt. 1st Class William Ross
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