Fort Bragg, N.C. — Three days before Memorial Day, Fort Bragg held a ceremony Friday to remember the 17 Special Operations soldiers killed in Afghanistan in the past year.
The names of the 17 were added to a granite monument on post, where families left roses in their memory. After the names were read aloud, the mournful strains of "Amazing Grace" were played by a bagpiper.
"I lost my one son and my only child, and we're pretty much a partnership growing up as a single mom. So, it's a big loss," Betsy Schultz said as she tearfully remembered Capt. Joseph Schultz.
Sgt. Alessandro Plutino died last August, a year before he and Natalie Layton planned to marry.
"It hurt really bad. Like I always say to my mom, I understand what it's like to have your heart hurt," Layton said, choking back tears.
Dianne Plutino recalled her son as "a smiley, curly-headed, determined little boy (who) grew up to be a determined man."
"Nobody could have stopped him," Plutino said. "If he had broken his leg, he probably would have found a way to crawl there."
One of the names added to the monument, First Lt. Ashley White, was one of only four women among the 1,100-plus Special Operations soldiers killed in action since Korea.
Friday's service also honored 15 Special Operations soldiers who were killed in 2010 but whose families couldn't attend last year's ceremony.