Local News

National Guard memorial honors soldiers fallen in Iraq

Posted June 22, 2008 2:21 p.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2008 2:22 p.m. EDT

— Under dark skies and heavy rain, hundreds of military personnel, their families and supporters held a ceremony to mark the dedication of a monument to National Guardsmen killed in Iraq.

About 300 civilians and 400 soldiers watched the unveiling of the 120th Combined Arms Battalion Fallen Soldier Memorial at the unit's armory on Saturday.

The monument was dedicated to four soldiers who died during the unit's deployment to Iraq in 2004: Spc. Jocelyn Carrasquillo, Capt. Christopher Cash, Spc. Daniel Desens and Staff Sgt. Michael Voss.

A bronzed statue of an inverted rifle, boots helmet and identification tags stands in front of a stone slab, which is emblazoned with the unit patch of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team. Stones carved with the fallen soldiers' names form an arch behind behind the memorial.

A garden and American flags surround the memorial.

Maj. Gen. William Ingram awarded the North Carolina Civilian Meritorious Service medal to Thomas Russell, a Wilmington resident who led a three-year-long effort to bring the memorial into being.

Russell ran fund-raising efforts through his charity, Step up for Soldiers, that supports injured soldiers. The monument was funded entirely by private donations.

Sgt. 1st Class John Henson, a full-time Guardsman with the 120th, helped Russell plan and design the memorial.