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New bricks unveiled at veterans monument
Families of 3rdID members who have been lost in war attended the ceremony. - photo by Ross Blair

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Short video clip of the event.

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The Richmond Hill Exchange Club held its regular meeting at the veterans monument in J.F. Gregory Park on May 28.

The club unveiled the 11 bricks they purchased which now bear the names of fallen 3rd ID soldiers. Families of two of the men traveled from Wisconsin and Kentucky to be in attendance for the commemoration.

The event included keynote speaker and WTOC General Manager Bill Cathcart, who gave a speech about the price of freedom and the importance of Memorial Day.

Coneitha Zapfke travelled from Kentucky with her children Anastacia, Spencer and Cameron Zapfke to commemorate her husband, who died in the line of duty.

Also joining the group were fellow soldiers who served with the same two fallen 3rd ID soldiers - Private First Class Nicholas Riehl of Wisconsin and Sergeant First Class William Zapfke of Kentucky.

Sergeant Benjamin Wilson was in attendance to commemorate Zapfke. He was with Zapfke and was also injured in the bombing that killed the soldier.

"We were on patrol just south of Baghdad and we were just looking for a route off the canal," Wilson said. "The next thing I remember is I’m pushing myself off the vehicle and wondering why I’m laying down. That’s when I realized we were actually hit."

He said his military duties forced him to miss his friend’s funeral, so this is the first service he has been able to pay his respects at.

"This was a great way for me to say goodbye because it really hurt me to miss the funeral," Wilson said. "Following him right up until the end was one of the best things I could’ve ever done. He was an excellent soldier."

Exchange Club President Bob Whitmarsh said the event turned out very nice and he "couldn’t ask for better weather. The participation of the Zapfke and Riehl families really took this event to another level. We hope to do this again next year."

Here is a list of the other nine 3rd ID casualties whose names and rank are now engraved upon the bricks of the park monument, which Whitmarsh said were randomly selected: Pvt. Kelly Youngblood, Sgt. William Beardsley, Spec. Forrest Waterbury, PFC Joey Sams, Sgt. Adrian Lewis, SSG Harrison Brown, PFC David Simmons, Spec. Eddie Tamez and First Sgt. Paul Smith.

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