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Two more trees dedicated on Warriors Walk
Eastern red buds for fallen soldiers
Patricia Milton, wife of Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton, hugs Amber and Catherine Cassidy. The girls’ father, Capt. Michael P. Cassidy, died last month while deployed to Iraq. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of row upon row of eastern red bud trees, swaying fragile wind chimes hung on delicate branches. Two more memorial trees now line Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk in honor of two soldiers who died last month while deployed to Iraq. A tree dedication was held Thursday to honor them.
Friends and relatives listened to prayers and poems. Two young girls flanked their mother in the shade of a tent as their father, Capt. Michael P. Cassidy, was remembered.
“I called him my gentle giant,” Cassidy’s widow, Johanna Cassidy, said. “He died doing what he loved. We were so proud of him.”
Cassidy and her daughters, Catherine, who just turned 11, and Amber, 9, wept amidst hugs and words of condolence.
Cassidy, 41, reportedly died on June 17 of natural causes while deployed to Mosul, Iraq. Cassidy, an Army physician’s assistant, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. He joined the Army in March 2003 and arrived at Fort Stewart in June 2009. Cassidy and his family made their home in Simpsonville, S.C.
Third ID deputy commander general-rear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips said 9/11 changed the course of Cassidy’s life, who was days away from completing his board exams to become a chiropractor. He joined the Army National Guard instead and later the regular Army.
Phillips said Cassidy, a physician’s assistant, wanted to help others. The general also described Cassidy as a “devoted father” and “attentive husband” who ran errands for his wife and was handy around the house, even remodeling their South Carolina home.
“Mike Cassidy was a good guy,” Phillips said. “He was Johanna’s Clark Kent.”
Pvt. Francisco J. Guardado-Ramirez, 21, nicknamed “Gordo,” was also honored.
Phillips described Guardado-Ramirez as “the rock in his platoon.”
“He volunteered for every mission and excelled,” the general said.
Guardado-Ramirez was killed in a traffic accident on June 2 in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID at Fort Stewart.
Guardado-Ramirez was allegedly ejected from a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle in which he was riding when the MRAP’s turret struck an overpass, according to previous media reports.
He joined the Army in June 2008 and arrived at Fort Stewart in November 2008. The young soldier hailed from Sunland Park, N.M.
Phillips said Guardado-Ramirez logged many hours manning a howitzer and standing guard duty in a prominent guard tower. These types of guard towers have been used as targets by insurgents, the general said.
“That adds up to a versatile and dedicated soldier,” Phillips said. He added Guardado-Ramirez will be remembered for his “quick wit and quiet calm.”
There are now 433 memorial trees planted along Warriors Walk.

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