Soldiers, Family Members and friends of 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, gathered Thursday in front of their headquarters building to unveil a memorial dedicated to four of their fallen Soldiers.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Philip E. Windorski Jr., Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew G. Kelley, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua M. Tillery and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin H. Todd were memorialized in stone in front of their peers. The four aviators were killed in action Jan. 26, 2009, during a mid-air collision while evading a surface-to-air improvised explosive device, while in support of a recovery operation for Task Force Six-Shooters.
After the playing of the national anthem, performed by the 10th Mountain Division Band, Chaplain (Maj.) Darrick Gutting, deputy division chaplain, offered an invocation for the fallen Soldiers and all present.
Before introducing the guest speaker, Lt. Col. Erick Sweet, commander of 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, “Six-Shooters,” greeted all who were present for the ceremony.
“Before I introduce our guest speaker,” Sweet said, “I want to first specifically recognize the Windorski and Kelley Families. Your presence here today honors not only the four heroes, Phil, Matt, Josh and Ben; it is also a special honor for our squadron of which they were a treasured part.”
Sweet introduced the guest speaker by saying that there was no question about who would serve in that capacity for the occasion. Retire Lt. Col. Brian Serota was the squadron’s commander in 2009, when these war heroes gave their full measure.
“The mantle of command was likely (not) heavier than it was on that day,” Sweet said.
After a round of applause, the guest speaker approached the podium.
Visibly touched, and with his voice trembling as he read the names of those who were his Soldiers back in 2009, Serota addressed the crowd.
“We gather today to celebrate the dedication of this memorial to the memory of four exceptional officers, aviators, husbands, fathers, friends and cavalrymen,” Serota said. “Their service to this unit and to our nation will bear remembrance for years to come.”
He continued by explaining that today, as is the Army’s custom, we honor the life and service of four great Soldiers.
“To those who knew them best,” Serota said, “their names inspired selfless service, courage, commitment, competence, confidence and camaraderie. They represent the best in all of us who have served, currently serve, and what we hope to instill in those who will follow and serve.”
“The dedication of the memorial,” he said, “will ensure that their legacy will continue to live on and that it will stand as a tangible reminder to all those assigned to 6-6 Cav.”
The retired commander said nothing less than excellence is acceptable, and that selfless service is an honor and accomplishing the mission was their duty.
After a round of applause, two Soldiers unveiled the plaque that was in a rock in front of the headquarters building with the names of all four Soldiers: Windorski and Kelley, codenamed “Adversary 22,” and Tillery and Todd, codenamed “Adversary 11.”
The ceremony concluded with the playing of taps and the benediction by Gutting. Friends and Family Members present went forward afterward to observe the monument and later went into the squadron’s classroom for refreshments.