There are now 461 living monuments at Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk. In a memorial ceremony held Thursday morning, three more 3rd Infantry Division soldiers were memorialized with eastern redbud trees and granite markers.
Among the soldiers honored during this month’s ceremony were Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey C. Baker, a 29-year-old explosive ordnance technician from Hesperia, Calif. Baker, husband of Vicki Baker and father of Audrey Baker, died May 14 in Sanjaray, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device.
Also honored was Spc. Ray A. Ramirez, a 20-year-old infantryman with only 14 months of active service. The Sacramento, Calif., native died June 1 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device. His mother, Angelina Ramirez, attended his tree-dedication ceremony.
The third soldier remembered was 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Job M. Reigoux. The Austin, Texas, native was the husband of Erica Reigoux and father of Seth and Maddison Reigoux. Reigoux died June 1 in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Brig. Gen. John Hort, 3rd ID deputy commanding general-rear, welcomed the 19 family members attending the ceremony as well as friends, fellow soldiers and special guests, including 3rd ID Commander Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams, who now is home from Afghanistan, pending his change of command Aug. 2.
“Warriors Walk is one of those examples of how our nation honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Hort, who noted that each of the 461 soldiers now honored at Warriors Walk were volunteers who forged a bond with each other as they served the Army that protects the nation.
Hort described Baker as a man who not only loved training soldiers but one who also loved to cook. Baker attended culinary school before joining the Army, he said. Baker and his wife often invited single soldiers to their home for meals he prepared. Sometimes, soldiers from other platoons begged for an invitation to these dinner parties, Hort said.
He described Reigoux as a man with a great sense of humor who provided comic relief for his platoon with the RoboCop and Monkey figurines he used to make light-hearted PowerPoint presentations.
The youngest of the soldiers honored gave up a baseball scholarship to a Division 1 college so he could join the Army, according to Hort. He said Ramirez came from a close-knit family, which served as a strong foundation that made him into a man of principle.
Before the ceremony, attendees stood and honored the nation these soldiers defended by singing the first stanza of Katharine Lee Bates’ “God Bless America.”
The program contained the words to the song, including the second stanza, which reads, “O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.”
Following the ceremony, Baker’s foster mother, Terri Long, talked with the media about her son and the ceremony.
“He was a kid who overcame a lot of adversities,” Long said. “He was a shooting star ... I think (this ceremony) was amazing. It was beautiful. It seems like the proper way to recognize his sacrifice and who he was. ... Other soldiers can walk through this place and reflect. I think that’s wonderful.”