Fort Lewis reconsiders group soldier memorials

Fort Lewis reconsiders group soldier memorials »Play Video
FORT LEWIS, Wash. -- The commanding general at the base is rethinking the new policy of holding just one memorial a month for all soldiers killed in the war on terrorism. This comes as a Stryker soldier was memorialized.

The commanders say they want to be respectful of the needs of the families of fallen soldiers and their fellow soldiers. So now they're rethinking how best to handle the large number of casualties that this base is now seeing.

The soldiers of the 3rd Stryker Brigade gathered on Thursday honor Sgt. Iosiwo Uruo. The soldier from Guam was killed by enemy gunfire north of Baghdad last week.

"I'm proud to have served with him. I'm proud to have fought beside him. I'm proud to consider him my friend," Spec. Mark Lindsay said at the memorial. "And thought Sgt. Uruo may never have been a man of many words, every one of those words will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him."

19 Fort Lewis soldiers have been killed in this month alone.

"Although we've gathered far more often than any of us desire, I thank each of you for taking the time to pause, reflect and honor this fallen soldier," said Maj Kyle Marsh of the 3rd Brigade at the memorial.

This was to have been the last solo memorial. Since there have been so many casualties Gen. William Troy ordered only one combined memorial every month.

It's something other military bases across the country do because they had so many soldiers in harms way.

"Other posts realized this very early on and went to the one a month thing," said Retired General Bill Harrison. "Now we're the ones who have so many over there and it's just almost impossible."

But that decision came under fire from some families of fallen soldiers. So now the general and the lead chaplain will come up with a new plan that may involve some group ceremonies and some individual ceremonies.

"He will do everything that it takes and if that means that he has to almost re-decide, I think he'll do that based on some input that he's getting," said Marsh. "But I know for sure that every soldier will get the honor that they're due and the respect that they deserve."

A group ceremony is set for Tuesday followed by a single ceremony next Wednesday.

The commanders at Fort Lewis say it's important to remember that each soldier is given an individual memorial in Iraq by that soldier's unit. Then there's an individual funeral back here in the states at the location of the family's choosing. The memorial at Fort Lewis is the third time they are honored.