Local News

82nd Airborne Honors Its Troopers Who Will Not Return to the Post

Posted May 23, 2007

— Few units in Iraq and Afghanistan have endured as many losses this year as the 82nd Airborne Division, which calls Fort Bragg home when its personnel are not assigned to missions around the globe.

Since last Memorial Day, 59 paratroopers have died, more than had been lost in total since Sept. 11, 2001. They include the nine soldiers killed in April on the deadliest day of combat for Fort Bragg troopers since Vietnam. One of those was Staff Sgt. William C. “Clint” Moore of Benson.

Wednesday, while two-thirds of its troops are deployed overseas, the 82nd Airborne honored all its comrades who have fallen.

They are, in the words of the division’s commander, Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, “men and women who remain American, all-American."

Their names read like a roll call of America: Hunt, Katzenberger, Martinez.

"They have volunteered to stand between the American people and those who would threaten our liberty," Austin said at a ceremony.

The children of Sgt. 1st Class Keith Callahan put their fingers on their father’s name on the memorial. It's among the 111 names of 82nd Airborne troopers killed in the war on terror.

The 82nd chorus sang "Amazing Grace."

There was a 21-gun salure.

“Taps” played.

Many survivors did not want to speak publicly about the service members they had lost, but others needed to talk, including those who treasured Staff Sgt. Travis Nixon of Maryville, Tenn. he died in Afghanistan in 2005.

"Coming back to the base, seeing this ... seeing all the uniforms. It kind of opens everything back up. It needs to be done," his mother, Maggie Nixon, said.

Sandra Fifer spoke about her son, Sgt. Eric Fifer of Greenwood, S.C., who had dreamed of being a soldier “from the time he was knee-high to a grasshopper." He died in Iraq in October 2005.

Soldiers wanted to talk, too.

Capt. Jacob Whiteside described the meaning of it all eloquently.

"Being able to walk in the back yard and cook a steak and be able to laugh with the kids — that's what it means to me, that I'm gonna know that when I take my son fishing, nobody’s gonna harm me because there’s people standing at point across the pond."


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  • andreawesco May 24, 2007

    Oh I almost forgot my father served with 101st in Vietnam he was actually shot 3 times and survived. Those were hard times then as well. Our family honors all those who have and who do serve what ever branch of the military they are in. They are all hero's to us. God Bless

  • andreawesco May 24, 2007

    My brother in law had originally been in the 82nd Airbourne but got out and then later joined the NC Guard he was KIA June 24, 2004 and still to this day my heart breaks for my Nephews who miss him so, as do we all. God Bless all of you who serve. Thank you for what you do so that we all can sleep in Peace. My thoughts and prayer are with all of you and all of those who have fallen and their famlies. GOD BLESS!!!!

  • iceman2262 May 24, 2007


  • dsmithnc1 May 24, 2007

    My husband is on his 4th tour over there currently. He is with the 82nd and not only have they taken alot of losses, they have alot of wounded this time as well you do not hear about. 15 month deployments are a long time to be in a very hostile environment. I did get to see a picture of my husband on the front page of the Raleigh News and Observer when the 82nd took such a heavy hit. It was one of the first picture I've seen of him since he got there in January. We are very proud of him and the rest of the guys! This Memorial Day and everyday, please keep the military and their families in your prayers. We live on edge every single day. They are all heroes to me!!!

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy May 24, 2007

    God Bless theses true American heroes! It's an honor to be able to type this message to you, because you are why I even able to sit here and do that!!!!

  • poohperson2000 May 23, 2007


    My heart goes out to you and all other military families. My husband just rejoined the National Guard in December after having been out of the service for nearly 5 years. I tried to talk him out of it, but I know he has always felt bad that his friends went to Iraq (and thankfully came home) but he did not. These people are loyal to our country and to their fellow soldiers. I do not think a stronger bond can be formed among people than the ones that are formed while serving our country. God Bless all our soldiers!

  • MajorLeagueinfidel May 23, 2007

    R.I.P warriors...thank god we have honorable men and women who are willing to put themselves in harms way to do the right thing and carry out their mission despite opposition and second guessing..it's called perserverance and will. The tradition of the 82nd carries on, always has..always will.

  • mvnull May 23, 2007

    So sad to lose such bright young women and men.

  • Josey May 23, 2007

    Let us not forget as we go on our daily days and feel stressed by the traffic.They hardly slept because as my Army son said when in Iraq it was more dangerous to be on the base then out on a mission because the enemy didn't know where he was. I stop now when I see a soldier in Walmart or other places. I look them in the eyes and I thank them for serving our country.I would never have looked at a soldier in uniform with these feelings had I not experienced first hand the crying in my pillow at night wondering if my son was in harms way. I see 4th of July things being sold which was his favorite holiday.Now, he throws himself to the ground at unexpected loud noises fearing he doesn't have his gun to protect himself. God be with them all and we need to PRAY for our leaders. A soldiers Mom