FORT POLK, LA (KPLC) - JRTC and Fort Polk held an annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Warrior Memorial Park Thursday.
Veterans, Gold Star families, local officials, and those currently stationed at Fort Polk were in attendance.
An invocation by Lieutenant Colonel David L. Oberdieck recognized surviving family members. An installation wreath was placed in front of the Global War on Terrorism Monument, two towers etched with the names of the 96 soldiers stationed at Fort Polk before being deployed overseas and making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. A solemn roll call was conducted in honor of those who died.
Brigadier General Patrick D. Frank gave the keynote address, ending his speech with a reminder.
"May we never forget how special it is to live in a nation that has brave citizen volunteers step up to become members of the world's greatest military force."
The 21-gun salute was conducted by the Bravo Battery, 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, followed by Taps played by PFC Brian S. Irving while the flag was raised from half to full mast by SFC Antonio M. Turegano, Sergeant Audio Murphy member.
One of the Gold Star family members was Robin Goodwin of Tyler, Texas. She was there to honor her son, Specialist Alexander W. Missildine. She says her son knew he wanted to be a soldier by the time he was 4 years old.
"Right about the time 9/11 happened, he really started talking about it. God told him at a really young age what his destiny in life was going to be. To be a soldier."
After basic training, he was stationed at Fort Polk in December 2015. It was then he asked to move to another unit that was being deployed.
"He said 'Mom, how can I sit at home when there are threats that threaten you not being able to just be safe? To be safe going to church, to work, to school?' " says Goodwin. "He said it's my responsibility and that's what I'm going to do."
He was deployed Sept. 4, Labor Day of last year. to Iraq.
His convoy hit an IED on Oct. 1. Specialist Alexander W. Missildine was 20 years old.
His name is now etched on the Global War on Terrorism monument in Fort Polk, along with his fellow service members, who gave their all in the service of their country.
His mom, now a Gold Star parent, says days like today are bittersweet for the family.
"Memorial Day for us now will always be a time... a one day of the year to remember all of the fallen soldiers, every single soldier. I think as Americans we need to not take that for granted. Every day, there are still women and men that put themselves in the line of danger every single day."
Soldiers like her son, who are willing to put their lives on the line in the name of freedom.