Fort Drum commanding general releases Memorial Day letter to soldiers, families and civilians

10th Mountain Division & Fort Drum Soldiers, Families and Civilians,

As our nation comes together to remember those who died in pursuit or defense of our freedom, they’ll join us in honoring the promise we keep every day. We will not forget. We keep the brothers and sisters-in-arms who we have lost close to us by saying their names, by telling their stories, ensuring their memories are carried into the future.

Specialist Alexander W. Missildine grew up in Tyler, Texas, a close-knit patriotic town on the eastern side of the Lone Star State. Alex first cultivated his leadership skills playing baritone in the school band at Robert E. Lee High School. He dedicated that desire to lead to his nation by joining the Army soon after graduation and then the 3rd Brigade Combat Team Patriots in Fort Polk in December 2015. Among his peers, he quickly became known for his work ethic and reliability. Among his friends and Family at home, he was an American hero, a soldier who chose to serve in time of war. When he found out that his entire unit would not go, he trained hard in the brutal summer heat of Louisiana to earn the opportunity to deploy to Iraq in September 2017.

Specialist Alexander W. Missildine, age 20, was killed Sunday, October 1, 2017 in Salah ad-Din Province, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy.

The Missildine Family will forever be a part of our Division, and I know you’ll keep them, and all of our Gold Star Families in your thoughts this Memorial Day.

This year, share with your friends and neighbors the story of Specialist Missildine, a 3rd Brigade Patriot who lived up to his unit’s name in every sense of the word. While mankind is the less for his loss, our nation remains safe because of his willingness to sacrifice.

Another way we honor those we have lost is carrying on where they cannot. I think of the many great Americans who died in Iraq as I see this nation work so hard to move beyond winning war to winning peace. Instead of concrete walls we now have grass growing in front of our headquarters and I water it every night when I am in the office late. The Iraqis now have access to the nabuk tree in front of our HQs, which is like a small sour apple. In a place where life has all too often been treated as fragile and insignificant, nature’s small but substantial return gives us hope that we may see the mission through to a lasting peace.

We currently have nearly 3,000 Soldiers in 14 countries who will not be home this Memorial Day. Honor them by recognizing the gift it is to be among your friends and Family this weekend, and celebrate safely.

Climb to Glory!

Walter E. Piatt
Major General, USA